China’s “Golden Week,” a weeklong holiday that marks the celebration of the country’s Oct. 1 National Day, quickly became a nuisance when local tourists bombarded big cities, creating chaos across the country.
The holiday, which kicked off on Tuesday, is a common time for travel because it coincides with lowered gas prices, ticket discounts and toll-free highways. But the travel appeal of the holiday has also unintentionally created a mess of China’s biggest landmarks and cities, with thousands of cars and people swarming the streets and beaches.
According to the China news blog Offbeat China, an extreme example of what has now been dubbed the “golden mess” of crowds took place at one of China’s famous scenic mountain ranges, the Jiuzhaigou Valley in southwestern Sichuan province. Earlier this week, tens of thousands of tourists were reportedly stranded at the site for some 11 hours due to long traffic jams on the roads leading to and from the mountain. According to the report, one man described the scene as “11 hours of chaos, anger, desperation and starvation.”
The local tourism bureau made a formal apology, adding that they would refund tickets sold on that day, which were reportedly worth 300 yuan, or $48. By mid-morning the following day, China Daily reported that more than 11,000 tickets had already been refunded.
In other areas of the country, including capital city Beijing, crowds flocked to popular sightseeing stops like Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. While all of the destinations are used to tourists, photos from this year’s National Day still managed to shock the authorities of the city of 20 million people.
Halfway through the holiday week, Chinese authorities have called for added measures to prevent chaotic numbers of tourists from gathering in various places. According to the state-run China Daily, the state’s National Tourism Administration urged local facilities to manage the surge of visitors by “restricting tourist flow to ensure order.” The new mandate also requires that authorities have emergency plans in place to deal with violence or altercations as a result of too much crowding.