February 2, 2023
BEIJING – Opening up means outlook optimistic for overseas travel in the year ahead
China’s outbound tourism showed a surprisingly good performance over the recent Spring Festival holiday, after the nation eased its COVID-19 control and entry policies in early January, and industry insiders expect a strong recovery of the tourism market this year.
Travel agencies said that bookings for overseas trips surged for the seven-day break from Jan 21 to 27, with destinations featuring tropical landscapes and friendly entry policies preferred.
According to travel platform Trip.com, overseas bookings jumped by 640 percent year-on-year over the holiday. The group said destinations in Southeast Asia including Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were the most popular choices.
Travel portal LY.com said bookings for outbound flights increased by 258 percent year-on-year during the holiday, and the flights into the mainland also saw a surge of 632 percent. Bookings for overseas hotels increased by 177 percent.
“It was my family’s tradition to take an overseas trip once a year, but it’s been hampered by the epidemic in the past three years,” said Lu Yao, a 35-year-old from Beijing who spent the holiday with her family in Thailand this year.
“Thailand is always our first choice, though we’ve been there five times. The people there are friendly to us Chinese people and things are cheap,” she said. “We spent six days there. Now we are planning our next family trip to Singapore, maybe for the May Day holiday.”
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said that thanks to the optimized COVID-19 control policies and eased travel restrictions, the tourism industry can return to normal.
“Before the holiday, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced travel agencies could resume operating group tours to overseas destinations from Feb 6. The friendly signal and warm welcome from destinations including Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines to Chinese travelers also attracted an active response from the world,” he said.
Shen Jiani, a senior researcher at Trip.com, expects a robust recovery of the tourism market this year considering the jump in travel during the holiday. “With the increasing number of international flights resuming in the future, we expect a tourism boom during the May Day holiday,” she said.
According to the latest figures from the National Immigration Administration, both inbound and outbound visits increased during the holiday.
Lin Yongsheng, an official from the administration, said at a conference on Monday there were over 1.44 million outbound passengers from the mainland from Jan 21 to 27, up 117 percent from the previous Spring Festival holiday. Inbound visits also rose, reaching about 1.43 million, up 123.2 percent.