Is the Chinese traveller returning?

 

China’s rapid containment of COVID-19 and fast economic recovery might offer hope to the global tourism industry.

In recent years, it has become one of the fastest-growing source markets for medical tourists globally. The country is the world's largest outbound-travel source market, skyrocketing from 4.5 million outbound travellers in 2000 to 170 million in 2019, with over a million medical and health tourists.

Many countries have introduced various measures and incentives, including long-term visas and adopting Alipay and WeChat Pay, to attract Chinese customers.

The China Tourism Academy (CTA) predicts that the pandemic will lead to some changes in people's travel habits. In a post-pandemic world, independent travel and smaller group tours will be popular since cautious people may hesitate to take large group tours.

Chinese people will make 3.4 billion domestic trips in 2020, down 43% on 2019, according to a report by the CTA. China's tourism sector is however in rapid recovery. 80% of Chinese people have expressed their willingness to travel during the third quarter of 2020. Most of China's hotels have resumed business, as have the majority of travel agencies. During the first half of 2020, China saw 1.17 billion domestic trips.

The USA has quietly loosened travel restrictions on people from the Chinese mainland and revoked the 14-day quarantine requirement. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, it has removed arrival restrictions on flights carrying persons who had recently travelled from, or were otherwise present within, the Chinese Mainland. The move could speed up medical tourists from China to the USA, but the number of passengers depends more on the number of flights between the two, which is still very limited. Flights from China are only allowed entry to the USA at seven airports, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta and Honolulu.

Beijing has reopened to international flights from eight countries, ending five months of lock-down in the Chinese capital.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China will monitor countries based on their rate of COVID-19. International flights are only be permitted to land in Beijing and the initial list of countries is:

  • Austria
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Greece
  • Pakistan
  • Sweden
  • Thailand

The only passengers permitted to board the flights are citizens of the country of the flight’s origin or Chinese citizens.

All passengers arriving in Beijing face a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a state-run facility on the outskirts of Beijing.

All arriving passengers must present proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 3 days before travel. At the end of the 14-day quarantine, travellers will be tested for COVID-19 again and then be permitted to leave the facility if the result is negative. Travellers then have to report their temperature to authorities for an additional 7 days.

The Chinese government have capped limits at 500 passengers per flight and a maximum of 1,000 inbound international travellers per day.

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, if any inbound flight has more than five cases, the service will be suspended for a week. If any flight confirms more than 10 cases, service will be suspended for four weeks.

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