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Chinese overseas travel picks up during Chinese New Year

On the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, a Chinese tourist surnamed Wu arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, along with her parents, at the start of a long-awaited vacation.

“I wanted to take my family to Thailand a few years ago, but it wasn’t possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wu, who lives in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province. “As soon as restrictions on overseas travel were lifted, I booked plane tickets to Thailand and fulfilled my promise.”

As China downgraded its COVID-19 management and facilitated smooth and orderly cross-border travel by its citizens and foreigners in early January, the overseas travel market, which had been mostly dormant for the past three years, quickly rebounded during the Spring party.

“Currently, the demand for travel abroad is very strong. For example, our charter flight products to the Maldives on Chinese Lunar New Year’s Eve were all booked within three days,” revealed Hang Haijun, head of a travel photo service.

Embassies and tourism agencies of many countries, including Thailand, Norway and Indonesia, have extended their welcome to Chinese tourists in a variety of ways since adjusting the Chinese response to COVID and the country’s entry and exit policies.

“For any destination in the world, the return of Chinese tourists is something to look forward to,” commented Shen Jiani, a senior researcher at the strategic research center at the Ctrip Research Institute, adding that the momentum will be felt most in the Asian market as is closer to China.

Chinese tourists are now more likely to choose overseas destinations with more open and friendly entry policies.

Data from Group shows that nearly half of hotel bookings made on its platform by Chinese tourists for more than 20 days are Thai hotels. Last week, the number of Chinese applicants for Thai visas increased three times year on year, while the number of people buying tourism products for Thailand increased 10 times year on year, according to data from Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel subsidiary. .

Wu said she and her family left Guangzhou in the morning and arrived in Bangkok at noon. It only took 20 minutes for them to complete the customs clearance process. “We were still unsure about the entry situation before we left China, but the whole process went smoothly,” she said.

Chinese tourists to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries have also posted their trouble-free entry experiences on social media.

The influx of Chinese tourists is adding confidence to the economic recovery of some countries that depend on tourism. Malaysia is expected to welcome 1.5 million to 2 million Chinese tourists in 2023, while some industry professionals in Singapore estimate that Chinese tourists will generate an additional S$2 billion in annual revenue.

The Chinese people’s urgent demand for overseas travel is also prompting tourism authorities to adjust policies.

On Jan. 20, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism released a circular to revive overseas group travel to 20 countries with China-friendly entry policies, including Thailand, Maldives, UAE, Russia and New Zealand. In Zhejiang, many travel agencies launched overseas group tour products, and some of them were all booked immediately.

“The market recovery is coming faster and stronger than expected,” said Chen Jin, deputy general manager of China International Travel Service Ningbo Co., Ltd., adding that the resumption of overseas group travel will be a driver to accelerate the recovery of the entire tourism sector.

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