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Monday 10 April 2023

Chinese tourists ready to take flight

After several years of restrictions, an increasing number of Chinese are expected to embark on outbound journeys with Thailand, New Zealand and the Maldives among their most popular destinations.

The Middle East and Europe are also set grow in popularity for Chinese tourists, the China Daily newspaper reported.

After three years of Covid-19 disruptions, China downgraded its pandemic response measures and re-started quarantine-free cross-border travel in January.

Chinese tourists have shown an increasing willingness to explore unconventional destinations, the newspaper said.

The Middle East is expected to emerge as a key tourism destination as more Chinese have shown a growing interest in traveling to the region.

On March 10, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran issued a joint statement in Beijing, stating that Saudi Arabia and Iran had agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies and missions within two months.

Currently, there are direct flights available that connect Chinese mainland cities with Tehran in Iran, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

China has resumed outbound group tours to 60 countries, and most of them have cancelled the requirement to provide negative Covid tests.

The first list of 20 countries was unveiled in early February, followed by the second list of 40 destinations in March. Travel agencies and online tourism service providers can offer group tours to these destinations, the tourism ministry said.

"Many overseas destinations in the second list boast huge potential to attract Chinese travellers," said Li Peng, director of long-haul outbound tourism at Tuniu Corp, a Nanjing-based online travel agency.

"In the past month, we have received a large number of inquires about travel to Iran and other countries in the Middle East. Demand for group tours to Vietnam, Nepal and Latin American countries is also on the rise.

"With further recovery of the market and outbound tourists' emerging demand, travel agencies have more preparations to make in order to develop more travel products and resources, and raise the quality of their services,"

The tourism segment is on track to a faster recovery given the trend of further opening-up, experts told the China Daily.

Tongcheng Travel, a Suzhou-based online travel agency, said demand for overseas trips had been rising.

Tongcheng Travel also found that Chinese tourists have shown a big interest in going on group tours to the Middle East.

Airlines are beefing up flight schedules to meet demand.

"We have attached significance to the China market and are confident in its growth potential," said Chan Cheong Eu, Qatar Airways' senior manager for North Asia.

"This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Qatar, and we will further contribute to the trade, cultural and personnel communications between the two countries."

Beijing is the fifth Chinese city to be served by Qatar Airways after the pandemic. The other four are Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Hangzhou.

"With China's reopening and the restart of the aviation and tourism industries, we are very glad to see the long overdue move of our scheduled services to Beijing Daxing, which will further strengthen our commitment to the country's aviation market development and Chinese travellers," said Arik De, chief revenue officer of Etihad Airways.

Image: Rubie Ann Agcol,

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