China removed certain COVID-19 restrictions on international passenger flights on Sunday, with domestic and international tourism expected to pick up steam as the Spring Festival holiday approaches.
Measures will be taken to ensure that freight at various ports will return to pre-epidemic levels as soon as possible and that outbound tourism for Chinese citizens will be resumed in an orderly manner, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
The optimized policies and measures include the resumption of accepting and approving Chinese citizens’ applications for ordinary passports for tourism purposes and visiting friends abroad.
China also optimized its regulations on travel between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao, according to a statement of the State Council Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. International travelers will be able to enter the mainland via Hong Kong and Macao, and restrictions on the passenger load factor for flights between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao will be lifted, according to the document.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Monday, China saw about 52.7 million domestic tourist visits during the previous three-day New Year holiday, up 0.44 percent year on year.
The tourism revenue generated over the holiday exceeded 26.5 billion yuan (about $3.8 billion), up 4 percent from the same period last year, according to the ministry.
“The national culture and tourism market is generally safe, smooth and orderly,” the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said.
Short-distance tours are trendy among travelers during the holiday period, with sustained popularity for ice and snow activities and camping among young people, according to the ministry. The data also shows a steady recovery in the country’s medium- and long-distance travel, with some online travel agencies reporting a significant increase in ticket bookings for cross-provincial and cross-border tourism over the holiday.
Given the significant number of potential Chinese tourists, the recovery of China’s outbound travel is expected to play a vital role in the rebound of both domestic and global tourism markets.
Within half an hour of the reopening policy announcement, searches for overseas destinations shot up by 1,000 percent, hitting a three-year high, according to Chinese online travel agency Ctrip.
Other Asian countries are among the first ones to benefit from this wave of outbound travel. Data from Trip.com Group showed that the number of orders for outbound flight tickets sold soared 254 percent on the morning of December 27, compared with the same time a day earlier. Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Thailand were among Chinese tourists’ most popular destinations.
As China’s policy of optimizing regulations on travel continues to generate strong interest globally, tourism authorities in several countries, including Thailand, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark, have posted on Weibo since December 27, inviting Chinese tourists to visit.