Despite an ongoing longing for foreign tourists, Wuhan has come most of the way back tourism-wise from the bleakest days of the provincial capital's history earlier this year. Lessons for the rest of the world? Once tourists feel safe, they will return in big numbers.
Wuhan, the much-maligned city in central China that was ground zero for the Covid-19 outbreak late last year, was the most-visited Chinese city during the Golden Week national holiday.
That’s according to a Wall Street Journal story, citing figures from Chinese tourism authorities about the city of 11 million people and the capital of Hubei province. Official Chinese government statistics had 3,869 deaths and 50,333 infections from coronavirus during the first four months of the outbreak after a 76-day lockdown.
The Wuhan government, according to the Wall Street Journal, reported that 18.8 million people visited Wuhan during the October 1-8 Golden Week national holiday. Despite the fact that Chinese tourists were traveling domestically for the 2020 incarnation of the holiday instead of to favorite vacation spots such as Thailand, Japan and Vietnam, and international visitors were all but absent, tourism revenue in Wuhan fell around 30 percent to $1.4 billion.
Official Chinese publications, citing pent-up demand in the form of “revenge travel” or “revenge buying,” predicted and reinforced a travel surge during the holiday. That may have triggered an influx of visitors to Wuhan along with the city’s traditional tourism allures, and some national pride, with some tourists expressing feel-good support for the beleaguered city.
However, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism said Golden Week 2020, which at eight days was a day longer than the 2019 celebrations, saw tourist numbers drop 21 percent to 637 million, according to South China Morning Post. Tourism spending declined 30 percent.
Wuhan Visits Are Not Grim Covid Tours
We saw Chinese online travel agency brand Ctrip on Saturday offering a variety of group tours to Wuhan via high-speed rail from Shanghai, for example, and including tours of Yellow Crane Tower and Wuhan University.
One reviewer lauded the walk and river views along the mountain road from Yellow Crane Tower Park to the tower. With most shops closed, the Hanyang art district wasn’t particularly crowded, the reviewer said.
“I went to Chu River Han Street by myself, the night view is so beautiful, the crayfish is delicious,” the reviewer said.
Unlike Pablo Escobar tours in Medellin, Colombia, which explore the city’s dark narco past, none of the Wuhan tours we saw took visitors to the meat and seafood market, where the pandemic recorded its first official cases, or to other notable Covid-19 flash points.
Instead, Tripadvisor this weekend offered a classic mini-group day tour of Wuhan that took in Yellow Crane Tower, Hubei Provincial Museum, and East Lake, from $139 per person.
Here’s a Wall Street Journal video about Wuhan as a tourist destination during Golden Week.
Photo credit: Wuhan's Yellow Crane Tower as seen on June 16, 2013. The city was China's most popular during Golden Week 2020. Meraj Chhaya / Flickr.com