China prepares for Spring Festival's movement of the masses
There is nothing in the world quite like China's Spring Festival - an annual event that sees tens of millions of people return to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year with their families.
Although the actual date of the Lunar New Year this year falls on February 3, the holiday period itself lasts for 40-days, from January 19 to February 27, in order to allow as many of China's workers to make it home - and for the country's transport system to cope with the mass movement.
Estimations are that there will be in total more than 230 million trips made on China's train system and an astonishing 2.56 billion bus journeys and already this week major hubs such as Shanghai have seen ticket sales skyrocket.
Last year Shanghai alone saw an estimated 6.5 million of its citizens take off for Spring Festival - out of the city's 20 million people.
The "Shanghai Daily", meanwhile, quoted railway officials as saying daily ticket sales were expected to surpass 200,000 in the lead up to the event while the "Yangtze Evening News" (based out of the northern city of Nanjing) quoted an online study that claimed around 60 per cent of respondents said they planned to travel during the festival - and not just to their traditional family homes.
The cities of Sanya, Lijiang, Xiamen and Harbin - all popular destinations for China's internal tourism market - were the places most people planned to visit, while nearly half of respondents to the survey claimed they would either head overseas during Spring Festival or, if not then, later in the year.
Of the cities targeted, Hong Kong - as is the norm - came out on top, followed by Japan, Maldives, Thailand, Australia, Bali and Singapore.
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