China’s corona easing boosts tourism

Shanghai/Beijing/Berlin, December 27 – Despite the easing of corona restrictions for travelers to China, there is unlikely to be an immediate holiday boom there. Assessments from the public, online platforms and travel agencies indicate that the recovery of the multi-billion euro travel business will take some time. China’s National Health Commission announced on Monday that incoming holidaymakers will no longer be quarantined from Jan. 8.

Officially, there are no restrictions on Chinese people traveling abroad, but the new rule should make it easier for them to return home. The immigration bureau announced Tuesday that China will resume issuing visas to mainland Chinese residents traveling abroad from Jan. 8.

“It’s great that they announced it so I can take my plans seriously,” Beijing exporter Tom Guo, 43, said on behalf of many. But he also stressed that he will be probably with us until late spring or even summer while waiting for a trip abroad. However, online portals have already reported a significant increase in demand. Data from travel platform Ctrip showed that within half an hour of the announcement, searches for popular cross-border travel destinations increased tenfold. The Qunar platform reported a sevenfold increase in searches for international flights in 15 minutes. Japan, Thailand and South Korea were among the most searched destinations on both platforms.

DUTY-FREE STORES EXPECT A POSITIVE EFFECT

Before the virus pandemic largely crippled global travel, China was the world’s largest so-called tourism exit market. The Chinese spent $127.5 billion on trips abroad in 2019. The world’s largest travel retailer, Swiss duty-free operator Dufry, welcomed the relief. “We expect a positive effect in the airports that the Chinese use and where we are represented.” If Chinese people travel abroad more frequently again, they will likely head to destinations in Southeast Asia first, a Dufry spokesperson said.

Openings and new perspectives are also calling airlines and travel groups onto the scene. They are studying whether and to what extent to expand their business in China. Lufthansa welcomed the Chinese authorities’ decision to ease entry restrictions. “This will help mainland China’s international air traffic recover in Europe,” a spokeswoman for the company said. The Lufthansa Group is currently checking to what extent or for how long it can adjust its flight schedule to and from mainland China.

The world’s largest travel group, TUI, said the announced travel simplifications should have a positive effect on the currently limited range of flights to China. “This makes study and city trips more interesting for holidaymakers and more attractive in terms of price,” said a TUI spokesperson. For the first quarter of 2023, TUI Cruises’ “Mein Schiff” fleet has already planned to return to Hong Kong – “a positive environment should be conducive here”.

According to industry experts, however, package travelers are more likely to seek the beach and the sun. Therefore, Thailand, Maldives and Bali are more popular in Asia. China’s travel market volume is relatively small. City and study trips as well as group trips played a more important role.

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Source: Reuters

Symbolic photo: Image by Bernd Müller on Pixabay

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