As China eases its COVID regulations, Asia’s top tourist spots are set for boom

Asian countries are bracing for an influx of Chinese tourists as COVID restrictions are dismantled, and while some are wary, operators in others are preparing packages such as hotpot buffets to cash in on the expected spike in travel.

The Chinese government has announced that Chinese tourists won’t need to be quarantined upon their return from China starting January 8. This announcement sparked a spike in Chinese tourist bookings in this world’s biggest outbound market.

The global expenditure of Chinese tourists, which was once worth $255 billion per year, came to an abrupt halt due to the pandemic. This left a huge gap in Asia’s market where many countries, from Japan to Thailand, had relied upon China to be their largest source of foreign visitors.

VariFlight data indicates that international flights from and to China have fallen to 8% of their pre-pandemic level. However, carriers plan to increase capacity to meet COVID-driven restrictions on flight numbers.

Bill Barnett (managing director at C9 Hotelworks), stated that “there is no doubt that mainland Chinese are the catalyst for Thailand’s recovery in tourism.” It’s not about whether it will happen or how quickly.

Malaysia Airlines and VietJet Aviation, a Vietnamese budget airline, said that they plan to return China’s flights to their pre-pandemic level by June 2023. Other carriers such as Singapore Airlines or Australia’s Qantas Airways (QAN.AX), declined to give specific targets.

Morningstar analyst Cheng Weng stated that Chinese airlines will likely increase their capacity starting at the end of March. This coincides with the beginning of summer scheduling and was shared with clients by Cheng Weng, Morningstar analyst.

Luxury stocks were buoyed by the prospect that cash-rich Chinese would flock to the streets of luxury across the globe this week. China is responsible for 21% of the global luxury goods market worth 350 billion euros ($371.91 trillion).

Businesses are gearing up for the Lunar New Year Holiday, which is a high-traffic period for Chinese tourists. It starts on Jan. 21.

Sofitel Sentosa Singapore has created Lunar New Year packages for Chinese tourists, which include a hotpot buffet, and romantic packages, according to Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale. The company is betting that there will be a rebound in travel.

Hato Bus, Japan’s tour bus company, said that it would be trying out Chinese-language tours next month. It stopped the Chinese-language tours during the pandemic. The spokesperson stated this.

Japan is cautious regarding Chinese tourists due to the rapid spread of the disease in China. The virus requires a positive COVID-19 testing upon arrival by Chinese tourists. Those who are confirmed must be quarantined for seven days in accordance with new border controls that took effect on Dec. 30.

While the United States announced that it will impose COVID testing on all Chinese tourists, and join India, Italy, Taiwan, and Taiwan in adopting new measures, the Philippines has been considering such a requirement.

Australia, Germany and Thailand said that they wouldn’t impose any additional restrictions on Chinese travel. France, however, took to Sina Weibo social media platform to emphasize its openness to Chinese friends.

Saigon Halong Hotel, Halong Bay, Vietnam expects to receive Chinese visitors in the first quarter of next year.

James Shen of Odyssey Travel, the general manager in Melbourne, said that any hopes for a huge rebound in Chinese tourism to Australia over Lunar New Year are unlikely, due to sky-high airfares.

He said that there are very few flights left and people would book very quickly. I believe any significant rebound in the economy will be delayed until after next summer’s travel boom.


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