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May Day holiday to see the peak of outbound tourism

2023/2/14 10:02:47   source:CGTN

Outbound travel has continued to grow since China resumed a pilot program on February 6. Chinese travel agencies and online travel companies have restarted outbound group tours and the "air ticket + hotel" booking business for Chinese tourists.

Tour operators receive an increasing number of inquiries about May Day holiday (April 29-May 3) packages as many are planning their trips abroad.

Most popular destination

China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has allowed travel agencies to offer outbound group tours to 20 countries: Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, the UAE, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba and Argentina.

Among them, Southeast Asia proves to be the most popular regional destination.

"The number of searches for outbound package tours has increased by a factor of five, driving the popularity of overseas destinations by around 330 percent," said Jiang Wen, a senior manager in charge of group tour within the Group, China's biggest online travel platform, adding that "Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Cambodia are the most searched-for destinations."

Passport applications also are reaching a peak, which is a major sign of recovery in outbound travel demand.

According to the website of the Visa Center of the U.S. Embassy in China, the U.S. visa processing offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou had no vacant slots until July 31.

French visas are also popular. France's visa application center in Shanghai is booked up until the end of March, with only a few slots remaining available. The country's visa application center in Guangzhou is also booked up until mid-to-late March.

According to Group, as of February 6, more than 48 outbound routes resumed in February, while the average weekly resumption of flights exceeded 156.

The number of outbound tour groups quickly gained pace after the travel program resumed. As the winter holiday season comes to an end, the majority of travelers were retired seniors over the age of 50, according to a report in The Paper.

Welcome back

China was one of the world’s leading consumers of outbound tourism before the pandemic, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Many tourist destinations are now thrilled to be able to welcome back Chinese visitors.

The Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park in the capital of the United Arab Emirates recently welcomed the first tourist group from China in three years. Over 60 Chinese tourists walked down the red carpet at the entrance to the park and received commemorative gifts and free admission.

"Egypt is welcoming tourists from China with open arms. Chinese tourists are very important to the revival of Egypt's tourism industry," an Egyptian travel agency manager told Guangming Daily.

China is Thailand's largest source of tourism revenue. The Tourism Authority of Thailand said that the return of Chinese visitors would provide a welcome boost to Thailand's tourism industry. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand is estimated to reach 300,000 in the first quarter of this year, and five million over the course of the entire year, according to the Thai newspaper, The Nation.

A full recovery of the outbound tourism sector needs the joint efforts of administrative departments, practitioners and tourists alike.

"The recovery of the outbound group tourism industry will still be a relatively long process," said Tang Xiaoyun, vice president of the China Tourism Academy.

The tourism industry should be aware that the confidence of tourists will take some time to restore. Many are concerned about the pandemic and the cost of products and services, Tang explained.

Tourists should also keep in mind that "everyone is responsible for their own health," and check the relevant pandemic prevention and visa requirements of the transit and destination countries before they travel, and plan their itineraries responsibly, Tang added.

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