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Outbound tourism rebound unlikely before summer

By QIU QUANLIN in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-30 08:48
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Travelers walk at Capital International Airport in Beijing on Tuesday. [Photo/Agencies]

Tourists are expected to maintain a cautious approach toward long-distance tourist destinations or overseas travel for a period of time after the latest changes to the country's COVID-19 policy, according to industry insiders.

"In the initial stage or for a period after the changes, we believe people may be cautious about outbound tourism, which is very similar to the situation in the domestic market," said Boonrapee Damrongrat, director of the Guangzhou office of Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Damrongrat made the remarks during the Maritime Silk Road (Nansha) International Forum &Asian Tourism Industry Annual Conference 2022, which was held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Wednesday.

The event was the first national tourism industry forum after the changes to China's COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control policy, with industry insiders gathering to discuss the new trend and momentum of the cultural and tourism industries.

"However, the rebound of China's tourism is no longer far off. The adjustment of the epidemic prevention and control policy, especially in terms of changes at borders, represents a turning point for inbound and outbound tourism," she said.

According to the latest changes, people arriving from abroad for work, business, study or family reunions will no longer need to quarantine from Jan 8, and restrictions on outbound travel will be relaxed.

The National Immigration Administration announced on Tuesday that it will resume issuing passports to Chinese citizens wanting to travel from the Chinese mainland, as well as granting exit and entry permits to those traveling to and from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

"In the face of a difficult time in tourism and major market changes, we are willing to work with authorities at domestic tourism destinations for mutual near-term benefit," Damrongrat said.

Xu Bingbin, co-president of Fosun Tourism Group, a leader in family leisure tourism worldwide, also remained reserved on the recovery of tourism, predicting it might not peak before summer next year.

"The COVID-19 policy changes do not mean that there will be a rebound during or after the Spring Festival," said Xu.

Citing the entry-exit situation in some countries and regions in Southeast Asia, Xu said outbound travel was subject to the degree of flight recovery in the first six months after restrictions are lifted.

"The sector cannot fully recover overnight, operators also must take into account health and safety situations," he said.

Xu, who is also chief executive officer of Club Med China, believes that the domestic holiday sector may be affected by the recovery of outbound travel.

Wei Wenzhong, a member of the Party committee of the Southern Finance Omnimedia Corp, said that the cultural and tourism sector was about to undergo recovery as demand will soon return.

"Following changes to the country's COVID-19 policy, the development of the cultural and tourism sector will gain greater strategic significance, with innovation also being deepened," he said.

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