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Outbound tourism on the road to recovery

By Zhang Linwan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-11 12:01
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Chinese tourists receive a warm welcome upon their arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport in the capital of Cambodia on Tuesday. PI LONG/XINHUA

Intl group travel restarts after three years of suspension due to COVID-19

In the early morning of Feb 6, Li Nan, a tour guide from China Tourism Group, was busy helping tourists check in their baggage at Beijing Capital International Airport for a long-awaited trip to Singapore.

The 15 travelers made up the first Singapore-bound tour group departing from Beijing since the country resumed outbound group travel on Monday. Outbound group tour services have been suspended in China over the past three years due to COVID-19.

"I am really excited today," Li said, adding that it marks a rebound and a new beginning of the domestic tourism industry.

Besides Singapore, travel agencies are permitted to organize group tours to 19 other countries and regions including Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia and New Zealand.

Also starting on Monday, cross-border travel between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong and Macao was fully resumed.

Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy, said China's outbound tourism market is expected to see a sustained recovery this year thanks to the optimized COVID-19 protocol.

According to data from online travel agency, the realtime search volume for outbound tour products on its platform surged five times when the new policy was announced on Jan 20.

Travel portal Tuniu said the number of bookings made from Feb 6 to 12 for overseas trips is estimated to double that of last week.

Many domestic airlines including Spring Airlines and China Southern Airlines also reported a high occupancy rate in international flights and plan to add more flights to meet the growing demands for outbound travel.

China had remained the largest outbound tourism market worldwide for several years before the pandemic hit. In 2019, Chinese tourists made 155 million overseas trips, with consumption abroad worth $133.8 billion.

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