Lately, China announced it would welcome international visitors back from January 8, 2023. In particular, the country will drop quarantine requirements to travelers. The information makes both domestic and foreign travelers happy. After the prolonged zero-COVID policy, the world’s top travel market is finally open.
As forecasts, China remains to be a desirable outbound market worth hundreds of billions US dollars.
The pre-pandemic biggest travel market
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, China was the market spending most for outbound travel in the globe. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Chinese travelers spent 254.6 billion USD for outbound tourism in 2019, accounting for nearly one-fifth of global tourism spending. China’s number of outbound tourists also increased by an average of 12.8% a year between 2009 and 2019. It was more than double the world average growth rate of 5.1%.
Statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS) showed that the total number of people’s trips abroad steadily increased from 57.4 million in 2010 to 169 million in 2019.
Nevertheless, the growth momentum has been hit hard by the pandemic in the past 3 years, from 2020.
Chinese travelers feel eager after the announcement
Following the announcement to stop quarantine for inbound visitors, Trip.com announced a 254% increase in foreign bookings compared to the previous day.
Searches for popular cross-border destinations increased tenfold within half an hour of the news, according to data from Chinese travel platform, Ctrip.
Some current barriers
VariFlight data shows that international flights to and from China are now just 8% of pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, carriers require confirmation of traffic rights and airport locations when they seek to increase capacity.
The fares are still high. Aside from that, other travel barriers include an expected backlog of passport and visa application renewals, and new screening requirements for Chinese visitors by countries including the US, Japan, India and Italy, said Steve Saxon, McKinsey’s lead of transportation, infrastructure and logistics in China.
Saxon hopes international capacity to and from China to increase to about 20-30% of pre-pandemic levels in March 2023 and possibly to 50% by summer 2023.
The annual growth of China’s outbound tourism is forecast to be 14.1% from opening time to 2032. Growth in the market is attributed to the growing expansion of the travel industry in China. According to the study, demand in the China outbound tourism market is predicted to surpass US$ 690,7 billion by 2032.