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China to resume outbound group travel to selected countries

By Zhao Lei | | Updated: 2023-01-20 18:02
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Tourists from a Xiamen Airlines flight are greeted by a Thai government official as they arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Jan 9, after China removed COVID-19 travel restrictions. [Photo by Yang Wanli/China Daily]

China will resume outbound group travel to a selected group of countries early next month, according to the the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The ministry said in a notice on its website on Friday that a pilot program will take effect on Feb 6 to allow travel agencies to open outbound group travel for Chinese citizens to 20 nations -- Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba and Argentina.

Travel agencies will also be allowed to offer flight and hotel packages to tourists starting at the same time, according to the notice.

The decision was made at the request from the foreign affairs panel of the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism, the country's top COVID-19 response task force, and was based on considerations about COVID-19 control measures and socioeconomic development, said the ministry.

The notice asks local authorities to understand the trial program's importance in rejuvenating the country's tourism industry and how they must take good care of tourists.

It also stipulates that authorities shall instruct tour organizers to strictly obey official COVID-19 measures at home and abroad. Tourists will be urged to make sure they are not infected with the highly contagious disease before boarding the flight, pay attention to their own safety and health and follow local COVID-19 rules during the journey, and comply with epidemic prevention requirements after returning to their hometown.

On social networking platform Sina Weibo, many micro-bloggers said in comments about the news that they are now eager to take overseas tours. A user named "Elegance of Snow Lotus" wrote, "I will travel around the world," while another who goes under the name "Bryant Manbahun" said, "I have taken my passport out of the box."

The National Health Commission announced on Dec 26 that China would scrap the quarantine requirement for international arrivals starting on Jan 8, as it would downgrade management of COVID-19 from Class A to Class B.

Data from, a major tourism service supplier in China, showed that just half an hour after the release of the announcement, the search volume for outbound flight tickets and overseas hotels reached a three-year high on the company's search engine.

On the morning of Dec 27, the number of orders for outbound flight tickets soared 254 percent, compared with the same period a day earlier. Singapore, Republic of Korea, Japan and Thailand were among Chinese tourists' most popular destinations.

In 2019, Chinese people made 155 million outbound trips, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

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