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Chinese outbound travel market updates

Chinese outbound travel market updates

Outbound Travel Policy Change

  • Starting 8th Jan – China has dropped the “zero Covid” policy after 3 years, consequently all travel restrictions have been removed, Chinese citizens can travel abroad for leisure, business and any other purposes.
  • Starting 6th Feb – Chinese outbound travel agencies are allowed to resume group tour and “air ticket + hotel” business for a list of countries.

(The full list includes Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, UAE, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba, Argentina.)

This does not mean the Chinese travellers cannot go to countries other than the list, business travellers, students, family visits, F.I.T. travellers can go anywhere they want, the above only refers to the “group tour” and “air ticket + hotel” business of Chinese travel agencies. And there will be more countries expected to add to the list in the next weeks/months. 

International Flights Recovery

Within the first week since the latest policy was promulgated, China has resumed scheduled passenger flights with 58 countries, and 98 Chinese and foreign airlines have carried out a total of 795 flights, an increase of 65% over the previous week. After the start of the new flight season on March 26, with the gradual recovery of international public and business personnel exchanges, tourism, study abroad and other demands, airlines, especially foreign airlines, will gradually adjust their flight capacity, and the number of international flights is expected to further increase.

Take Africa destination as an example:

  • Ethiopian Airlines announced that it will resume passenger flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu in an orderly manner from February 6. Starting from March, Ethiopian Airlines flights from mainland China to Addis Ababa will fully return to pre-epidemic levels.
  • Kenya Airways started the Guangzhou – Nairobi route twice a week from February 18. From March 2, it will be increased to three flights per week. 
  • China Southern Airlines resumes the Guangzhou-Nairobi route with two round-trip flights per week since 9thJan.
  • Emirates, Qatar Airways have also resumed flights connecting China with Africa…

Contact us for a full list of international flight recovery chart

Recent remarkable Industry Events  

  • GZL, one of China’s top outbound travel agencies, launched its first 10-day tour for New Zealand on 3rd The tour fee is about US$ 3,800/person, and the 40 places are quickly sold out within one minute. 21 additional quotas were offered, which were also sold out within one day. This group was the first tour group to the southern hemisphere after the recovery of the Chinese outbound travel.
  • At 0:15am on 6th February, the first two tour groups with a total of 50 people from Guangzhou departed with Emirates flight EK363 to Dubai, which signalled that outbound and group tours, which have been stagnant for three years, finally ushered in a restart.
  • 9thFebruary, the tourism industry promotion event of “Reunion with South Africa, Welcoming the ‘Rebirth'” hosted by the South African Tourism Board was held in Beijing. The ambassador of South Africa to China, the chief representative of the Asia-Pacific region of the South African Tourism Board, Singapore Airlines and other 40 travel industry partners and media attended the event.
  • 11th Feb, it marks the first Chinese tourists group returning to Kenya after 3 years, arriving in Nairobi with China Southern flight, 205 travellers in total. John Ololtuaa, tourism ps of Kenya, welcomed the group in the airport in person. 
  • Tanzania Tourism Board has confirmed a 50 people travel trade FAM trip from China which will take place at the end of March.
  • Sri Lanka received its first group of post-pandemic Chinese tourists on 2nd March, after becoming one of the first 20 countries to resume the organization of outbound group tourists from China.

What are the future prospects from China?

Before the pandemic China was the world’s No.1 outbound tourism source country with 155 million travellers and $250 billion spending globally in 2019.

Global tourism experts predict that the number of Chinese outbound tourists is expected to rise steadily, exceeding 200 million in 2028 and reaching 228 million in 2030. In 2023, it is expected that the Chinese outbound travel will recover up to 60% of its 2019 level.

During the recent 2023 Chinese New Year holiday (21-27 Jan), 1.443 million people travelled abroad in a 7-day-period, an increase of 117.8% over the same period during the Spring Festival last year.

Recent survey results indicate that recovery will pick up gradually throughout the first sixth months of the year, industry experts expect a strong comeback to start from July, along with a eight-day Golden Week holiday for Moon Festival and China’s National Day (September 29 to October 6).

There are many noticeable differences from outbound travel three years ago. “Young people” and “price insensitive” have become the labels of the first batch of outbound tourists. In addition, compared with the previous 10-person+ group, the current starting group can be formed with 2 people, and customization has become a new trend.

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