SHANGHAI, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- With the optimization of China's COVID-19 response policies, Shanghai's legendary Fairmont Peace Hotel, a cherished landmark for almost a century, felt the Spring Festival vibe back in the air in 2023.
At the end of Nanjing Road and a stone's throw from the Bund, sits Fairmont Peace Hotel. As people celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rabbit with strong consumer sentiments, the hotel found itself basking in a festive hustle and bustle. The center of its hall featured dozens of dough artworks in the shape of lions and rabbits, giving guests a special welcome.
Thanks to the optimization of China's COVID-19 response policies, the sales of the hotel last month increased by 50 percent compared with the same period in 2022, said George Wee, general manager of Fairmont Peace Hotel.
Following China's downgrading of its COVID-19 management, unleashed consumer demand has been evident across the country.
"We could not believe what happened. When restrictions were lifted, our business just shot right up. That's an incredible experience!" he said. "Now we are super busy. All of our 270 rooms and 38 suites were booked during the Spring Festival holiday and our restaurants were packed every day for lunch and dinner from the start to the end of the holiday."
Wee expected that the 2023 market performance will exceed the 2019 level, as the increase in travel and consumption had given a strong signal that the country's economy will see robust recovery this year. "Taking this as a starting point, we have every reason to believe that the pent-up demand will be there and confidence in China's consumption and potential will return rapidly. We have a great team ready to make guests feel special when they come back to us," he said.
The experience of Fairmont Peace Hotel vividly shows the regained vitality of the consumer market in China.
During the Spring Festival holiday, Shanghai was among the most popular destinations. It is monitored that a total of 4.12 million visits were made to the city's major tourist attractions, which recovered to about 90 percent of the same period before the pandemic.
According to the State Taxation Administration, the sales revenue of China's consumption-related sectors during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday this year went up 12.2 percent from last year, and saw an average annual growth of 12.4 percent during this period compared with the Spring Festival holiday in 2019.
Zhu Haibin, chief China economist at J.P. Morgan, lifted China's 2023 full-year forecast to 5.6 percent year on year in his latest report, noting that consumption and investment will become the main growth drivers.
Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking, who expected 5.5 percent GDP growth for China in 2023, believed that tourism recovery will be a very important prologue to China's economic performance.