China lifts group-travel ban to key destinations

CHINA has lifted a ban on group travel to 138 countries including the United States, Britain, South Korea, Japan and Australia in a big move likely to boost the international tourism market. 

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced yesterday that the immediate resumption of group tours applied to all travel agencies and online platforms across the country.

The move is likely to test how well China’s aviation, business events, hotels and other travel segments can recover after a sluggish performance since anti-Covid restrictions were abandoned last December.

More… Navigating Covid recovery in China and Southeast Asia

Mainland Chinese tourists had outspent their counterparts from other countries prior to the pandemic when travelling abroad. A total of US$219 billion was spent in 2019 with group tours accounting for about 60 per cent of that figure, Reuters reported.

Group tours to 20 countries, including Thailand, Singapore and Russia had been resumed in January before the list was expanded to 60 countries in March, which included Italy, France and Spain.

Outbound travel from mainland China was at 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, the South China Morning Post quoted a McKinsey and Company partner as saying. Challenges such as higher air fares and visa application delays for some countries, such as Canada and Saudi Arabia, remained.  

Main picture: Attendees, including group travel buyers and exhibitors, arriving at the IBTM China 2018 trade show in Beijing 

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