BEIJING (AFP) - China has kicked off its National Day holiday, marking a week-long spending spree for wealthy urbanites.
Fifty-six years after China's Communist Party founding father Mao Zedong declared in Beijing's Tiananmen Square that "China had stood up," consumers have arisen and are displaying awesome buying power.
"It's mad," said a taxi driver. "I'm making so much money today from people who go shopping or sightseeing."
On Wangfujing street, one of Beijing's main shopping areas, thousands of people, many of them domestic tourists from other parts of China, were taking advantage of the numerous National Day promotions the businesses had arranged.
China has three week-long holidays a year, and each has evolved into an opportunity for prosperous city-dwellers to spend their wealth.
The country will see 370 million domestic and overseas arrivals and departures during the National Day holiday, also known as Golden Week, the China Daily reported.
About 330 million trips will be taken by road, mostly long-distance buses, an increase of three percent from last year.
Another 38 million train tickets will be sold, up 3.8 percent, while sales of air tickets will rise 12 percent from last year to 2.6 million, according to the paper.
Beijing International Airport was being stretched to the limit, seeking to restrict the number of take-offs and landings to no more than one a minute, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Trips abroad are an increasingly popular option as the government allows tourists to visit more foreign destinations.
The China Daily also suggested that a slight, two percent revaluation of the currency that took take place earlier this year may give an additional boost to overseas travel.
While many will focus on leisure during the National Day holiday, patriotic feeling remains high. National flag sales are soaring, according to Zheng Donghong, a manager of flag seller Beijing Cihang Diagram Text Agency.
"More and more Beijingers buy small national flags to decorate their homes, as a way of expressing their patriotism," she told the China Daily.
(Photo source: Xinhua/First photo: National flags along the street in southern China's Changsha city./Second Photo (L): Thousands of people are visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing./Third Photo: Shoppers have their wallet ready at the commercial district of Xidan, Beijing. )