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Red Envelopes for the World


Text by Wen Xi

For Chinese children, the best part of Lunar New Year’s Eve is receiving red envelopes of lucky money from elders, rich and poor. During the festival — the biggest holiday of the year — adults enjoy family reunions, visit friends and relatives, shop for new clothes, stroll through temple fairs, and eat big meals.

Similar to Christmas, such a festive occasion creates tremendous opportunities for businesses in almost every sector, particularly culture, transportation, tourism, telecommunications, and dining, and the comprehensive seasonal stimulus characterizes the Spring Festival economy.

In 2012, for example, passenger volume during Spring Festival reached 3.137 billion trips, and in 2013 it is expected to top 3.4 billion — more than twice total population of China. When it comes to tourism, during the seven-day holiday last year, Beijing welcomed 8.27 million visitors who injected a total of 3.4 billion yuan into its local economy.

The bump in total retail sales in December and January is huge, before plummeting in February.

Over the last few years, as China has seen rapid economic development, impact of the thriving Spring Festival economy has rippled across the planet.

During 2012 Spring Festival, for instance, Vancouver, Canada, hosted a Chinese temple fair with brightly-colored signs and lanterns accented by boisterous beating of drums and gongs. Virtually every local Chinese community and group participated in the celebration, injecting unprecedented Eastern flavor into the Western coastal city. The festival also heated up Vancouver’s winter economy, and words such as “hot” and “noisy” were frequently seen in local media reports.

Thailand’s biggest traditional holiday can trace its roots back to China and falls at the same time of the year. The increasing flow of tourists from China inspired the Thai tourism industry to merge native celebrations with Chinese New Year in an attempt to attract even more Chinese holiday visitors.

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