China eases int'l travel to meet outbound tourism demand
In early April, Xiao Ying and her husband embarked on a flight from Beijing to Geneva, beginning their honeymoon in the picturesque cities of Switzerland
  ·  2024-05-20  ·   Source: Xinhua News Agency;

In early April, Xiao Ying and her husband embarked on a flight from Beijing to Geneva, beginning their honeymoon in the picturesque cities of Switzerland.

The flight, which had been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed operations in February 2023, marking a significant revival in tourism for Chinese travelers.

"The resumed flight offered us more choices in travel destinations," Xiao said.

In the first quarter of 2024, Chinese mainland tourists spent a total of 153,723 nights in Switzerland, an increase of 92.2 percent from the same period last year, according to data from Switzerland Tourism.

"The resumption of flights between the two countries is a major contributor to the spike in Chinese tourist arrivals," said Shi Bang, director of the board at Switzerland-based LOTO Travel Agency AG. "Also, visa procedures have been simplified for Chinese travelers."

In order to meet the growing demand for outbound travel, China has increased flight capacity and expanded favorable visa policies for its citizens.

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), scheduled international passenger flights have resumed to approximately 73 percent of their pre-pandemic levels.

In April, the number of flights between China and countries such as Britain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Italy, Qatar, and Türkiye surpassed those of the same period in 2019, according to a report by Flight Manager, an aviation information service provider.

At present, international passenger flights link China with 70 countries, with five new destinations added since the pandemic: Kuwait, Serbia, Tanzania, Luxembourg, and Papua New Guinea. Recently, new international routes have been launched, including the Beijing-Madrid-Sao Paulo route and Shenzhen-Mexico City route, the CAAC said.

Furthermore, China implements a visa-free policy for a number of countries to facilitate easier travel for its citizens.

Following the enforcement of a visa-free entry policy for Malaysia on Dec. 1, 2023, 168,000 Chinese tourists visited the country within one month, representing a 35.1 percent increase from November, said Tourism Malaysia Director-General Manoharan Periasamy.

To boost Chinese tourist arrivals, Malaysia is enhancing visitors' experience by deploying Chinese-proficient staff at key entry points and collaborating with airlines to offer direct flights from secondary and tertiary Chinese cities, Manoharan said.

So far, China has reached agreements or arrangements to simplify visa procedures with over 40 countries and achieved comprehensive mutual visa exemption with more than 20 countries, including Thailand, Singapore, the Maldives, and the UAE. In addition, over 60 countries and regions offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival policies to Chinese citizens.

Bolstered by these efforts, China's outbound tourism revival continued to gain momentum. During the recent May Day holiday, 1.897 million trips were made by tourists from China to nearly 200 countries and regions. The country has become the largest source of international tourists.

"The resurgence of China's outbound tourism is a boost to Switzerland's tourism industry and the economy as a whole. People-to-people exchanges and mutual understanding will also be enhanced," Shi said, adding that the travel agency is improving its services to welcome more Chinese tourists.

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