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Time is up for Unprepared Travel Sectors, as China Gets Moving

Skift Take

China’s tourism experts warned the industry to prepare for the return of the Chinese traveler months ago — meaning active destination promotions with special packages catering to China’s reopening should already be in place. We will know how well it heeded that call in the days ahead.

If the sudden dropping of all restrictions by the Chinese government caught travel agents and tour operators off-guard, it begs the question: why? 

China’s tourism experts warned the industry to prepare for the return of the Chinese traveler months ago — meaning active destination promotions with special packages catering to China’s reopening should already be in place.   

However, key concerns out of the travel agent’s direct control include air connectivity, visa and passport application backlogs, and Covid-19 travel requirements. But come Sunday, the revenge Chinese traveler will enter the fold whether the sector is ready or not, as China lifts long-held quarantine requirements.

In 2019, 155 million Chinese travelled abroad, spending $254.6 billion, with meaningful recovery in mass tourism only expected in the second quarter of 2023. 

Destinations with ease of access will be the winners as the wave of Chinese tourists spreads across the globe. The United States is one of the many countries imposing mandatory COVID-19 tests on travellers from China. 

The continued backlog of U.S. visa applications is an issue for most countries worldwide and a stumbling block to tourism’s recovery. As a result, the U.S. won’t see a significant influx from Chinese travelers, despite being one of the two top destinations for Chinese Travelers. 

Regional destinations such as Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Singapore will now top the list for Chinese travelers, as does France and Australia.

The Short-Term Challenges for Group Tours

“We’re anticipating a slow return to long-haul travel,” said Tourvest subsidiary, Sense

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