>May Day domestic trips up 119.7%
The latest figures by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Wednesday show that about 230 million domestic trips were made over the five-day holiday — from May 1 to 5, marking a year-on-year rise of 119.7%. The domestic tourism market has so far recovered 103.2% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Tourism-related revenue made over the break reached over 113 billion yuan, up 138.1% year-on-year, reaching 77% of the level before the pandemic.
Figures from Trip.com Group, an online travel service provider, show that orders on its platform for the holiday rose by 270%, even growing by 30% over the same period in 2019.
Sales of air tickets and high-rated hotels also saw an upswing over the break.
According to Qunar, another online travel agency, its platform saw reservations for holiday air tickets rise by 30% and those for hotels by 40% over 2019.
It said that travelers also spent more money over the holiday whose average expenses — about 1,713 yuan — reached the record high compared with the same holiday in previous years.
>Acute food insecurity at 5-year high
Conflicts, economic crises and extreme weather conditions pushed the number of people who faced acute food insecurity to 155 million in 2020, the highest figure in five years, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other agencies said on Wednesday.
FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu has called for "addressing the root causes of acute hunger, and for making agri-food systems more efficient, resilient, sustainable and inclusive."
The situation was described in the "2021 Global Report on Food Crises" issued by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC). The report highlighted that acute food insecurity was spread across at least 55 countries and territories in 2020.
Since the first such report was issued in 2017, acute food insecurity has been on a constant rise.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of the global food system, and the need for more equitable, sustainable, and resilient systems," the global network's founding members said in their joint statement.
>Russia quits Open Skies Treaty
The Russian government said Wednesday it has approved a bill on the country's withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies and will submit the document to President Vladimir Putin.
As the legal procedure requires, Putin will then submit the bill to the parliament for deliberation and approval, and finally sign it into law, officially terminating Russia's participation in the treaty.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Jan 15 that the country had started domestic procedures for the pullout from the Treaty on Open Skies.
The Treaty on Open Skies, which became effective in 2002, allows its states-parties to conduct short-notice, unarmed reconnaissance flights over the others' entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities.
The US announced its withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies in November 2020.
>3rd wave inevitable in India
A third wave of COVID-19 outbreaks is inevitable in India given the higher levels of the circulating virus, said Principal Scientific Advisor to India's Federal Government K. Vijay Raghavan on Wednesday.
"But it is not clear on what time scale this phase three will occur. We should prepare for new waves. New variants will arise all over the world and in India too but variants that increase transmission will likely plateau," he told media.
India is already reeling under a deadly second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The country on Wednesday reported a record high of 3,780 deaths in 24 hours, taking the death toll to 226,188, while 382,315 new cases took the total tally to 20,665,148.
According to Raghavan, vaccines are effective against the current virus variants.
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