Chinese travellers make a return as COVID quarantine ends and New Year approaches

As of 5 January, China’s tourism bookings for the upcoming Lunar New Year break increased by 45% and expenditure per tourist climbed 53% year-on-year, according to China’s largest online travel agency Group. recently released a market report which shows that long-haul flight orders have grown 75% compared to last year. And Beijing, Shanghai and Sanya topped the list for most popular domestic travel destinations amongst Chinese travellers.

From 8 January onwards, China will lift restrictions on inbound and outbound travel, with hotel-quarantine upon arrival no longer required, as well as resuming passport and visa issuance. With only a few simple entry tests, an explosive volume in international travel orders is expected for the upcoming Lunar New Year break after three years of strict and restrictive COVID controls at home.  

Overseas flight bookings during the New Year holiday from mainland China jumped 540% on Tuesday while the average order cost increased by 32%. Countries like France, Thailand, Canada, Australia, to name a few, have geared up to welcome Chinese tourists by scheduling posts on Weibo to deliver their excitement. 

The top 10 hot destinations for this travel revival are Australia, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, United States, Singapore, Macau and Indonesia. Among which, booking orders for Melbourne, Australia, saw a whopping 50 times surge and Thailand is ready to welcome over 300,000 visitors in the first 3 months of 2023.

However, there are still several hurdles for travellers to overcome as China sees daily COVID cases hitting a record high. As of 28 December, the number of infected individuals totalled 9 million, with a scientific prediction that COVID may reach its peak between 23 January to 2 February.

Since Chinese authorities removed COVID restrictions in December 2022 which was followed by an abrupt relaxation on travel this month, three years of self-imposed isolation finally came to an end, allowing tourists to explore the world freely again.

With China’s vast population ready to release their pent-up travel frustration, both Group and the world are optimistic about the outlook of the tourism industry in 2023.


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