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Yes, The Chinese Are Coming Back

By: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, CEO COTRI

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Yes, the Chinese really are coming back!  China’s outbound tourism has started to climb back to No. 1 position in the world.

It’s two months since Chinese citizens could apply for passports again and, just over two weeks ago, that Chinese tour operators were officially allowed to sell outbound trips for what is euphemistically  called “group travel” to 20 destinations –  even though most customers are just buying air tickets and hotel reservations. 

The speed of the recovery process is impressive. Reports from many cities indicate that it takes only about a week to get a new passport, while other travel restrictions are also falling to the wayside quickly.

The clash between South Korea and China over discriminatory treatment also seems to be over. Within the last 3 weeks, South Koreans can now get visas for China again and the South Korean government has also ended special treatments for Chinese.

European Union countries have agreed to phase out COVID-19 restrictions on travellers from China and will  stop random testing of travellers from China by the middle of March.

Chinese companies have also restarted  outbound investment in tourism infrastructure,  with the Shanghai retailer Yuyuan Tourist Mart announcing plans to invest about 120 million USD in a Japanese ski resort project on Hokkaido.

Airlines are bringing back a multitude of routes to and from China and ticket prices are in most cases back to pre-pandemic levels. 

Business, studies and family reunions are major reasons for the first outbound travellers, but the first leisure tourists have already been sighted not only in the neighbouring countries but also in Sydney, Paris and Milan. 

The lamentable shortage of coffins in China has already almost been forgotten. This has been superseded by a lack of dressing gowns for all the brides who had to wait for their marriages(!), resulting  in a wave of honeymoon trips to exotic locations which provide the background for the essential honeymoon pictures.

The year 2022 ended with a total number of outbound trips below nine million, about 5% of the 2019 level. Even worse, more than five million of these trips went no further than Macau SAR. Hong Kong SAR welcomed 375,000 Mainlanders, five times the number of 2021, but still less than 1% of the 2019 arrivals. However, notwithstanding another Black Swan event or an attack on Taiwan, Chinese travellers will be able to make the steep climb back to the top of all international tourism source markets during the current year. 

We are proud to receive an ongoing stream of positive reviews in the media as well as praise by professionals who bought and read our China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023: 88 PRACTICAL WAYS TO PREPARE FOR THE NEW WAVE OF CHINESE VISITORS – China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023. It is still the only up-to-date publication available providing practical advice for the industry to prepare for the new wave of Chinese travellers. Get your copy here: payhip.com

As it turns out, many organisations and companies have lost much of their knowledge and experience for the Chinese outbound market, as the “China” person in the structure was – for lack of work – either kicked out, given another field of work or walked away, taking with him or her a lot of the necessary background about the development of China’s outbound tourism in pre-pandemic times. We produce referential sources of information. 

I  look forward to meeting many of you visiting  the ITB Berlin March 7-9. If you want to make an appointment for a personal meeting, please drop us a line. On March 9th there will be a China outbound panel organised by WTCF (World Tourism Cities Federation), which will also have me as a panellist. 

Some of our readers will certainly be among the participants of the China outbound workshops, which start this month, in Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, Belgium, the UK and other locations. If you are interested in hosting such a ‘Recovery’ training and workshop in your destination or company, please  let us know.

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