The COVID-19 outbreak has pushed the Chinese travel industry to suffer huge losses. Most people have chosen to stay indoors during this period, limiting travel to just nearby areas on an emergency basis. But once the viral outbreak is brought under control, many expect an increase in the number of Chinese travelers as they seek to shake off the boredom of the past few months by exploring their vast country.
Chinese domestic travel
According to the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the country saw 115 million domestic tourist trips between May 1 and May 5 this year, which marks the Labor Day holiday period in China. While this is a 60 percent decline in the number of trips as compared to last year, it is double the trips seen during the April national holiday of Qingming. Experts believe that this signals a rising trend in domestic tourism, which makes sense since Chinese authorities are slowly easing off travel restrictions in some regions.
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According to a survey by Trip.com, the largest online travel operator in China, almost 61 percent of Chinese travelers stated that they would be ready to travel by August. A survey by international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman found that 77 percent of respondents preferred to travel domestically for their first post-COVID-19 trip.
“From our survey, it is encouraging to see that the majority of Chinese travelers have a strong appetite to resume traveling and retail spending after COVID-19 subsides… The major reason that Chinese travelers want to explore domestically is that China is in a much more stabilized condition versus the rest of the world, at least in the coming three to four months,” Katie Sham, a principal of Oliver Wyman based in Shanghai, said to CNN Travel.
Being a vast country, China is rich in numerous cultural sites, cities, natural parks, etc., all of which are expected to see a rise in visitor traffic in the coming months. Surprisingly, a study on travel trends indicated that Wuhan is the destination most Chinese people are looking forward to visiting once the pandemic eases off. Being the place where the epidemic began, most Chinese people seem to be curious about the region.
Some experts believe that people perceive Wuhan as a “survivor city” and wish to visit the place to show their support to its people. Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, was ranked the second desired province for travel behind Beijing in Hebei Province. Prior to the outbreak, Hubei never even ranked in the top 10. Thailand, Russia, and Japan were ranked in the top three foreign nations Chinese travelers most wanted to visit this year. The U.S, which previously held the top spot, dropped out of the top 10 rankings.
Inbound travel rules
As far as inbound travel is concerned, the government continues to follow strict policies regarding visitors. All overseas passengers, whether they arrive by air, land, or sea, will have to undergo nucleic acid testing. All international flights to Beijing are being redirected to 12 cities that have been classified as the “first entry point.”
Upon reaching the place, every visitor will be quarantined for 14 days. They will then undergo tests for COVID-19 infection. Once the tests show negative results, the visitors will be allowed to move to Beijing. However, if they do not move to Beijing within the same day of the test or at least the following day, the tourist will again be quarantined for 14 days, this time in Beijing.