China to Resume Group Tour to 40 More Countries Starting March 15

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China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced on Saturday that the country would resume outbound group tours for Chinese citizens to another 40 countries, including Nepal, Vietnam, Iran, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Brazil, starting from March 15.

This is the second batch of destinations in China’s pilot program for outbound group tours after the country resumed cross-border group tours to the first batch of 20 countries and regions on February 6.

Expanding Destinations as Overseas Tourism Industry Recovers

China’s decision to increase the number of destinations comes as the country’s overseas tourism industry has been rapidly recovering over the last month. More countries are banking on the return of Chinese tourists to bolster the post-virus economic recovery.

According to a report by observers, more Chinese travellers are expected to return, providing a much-needed boost to the global tourism industry and channelling optimism into the global economy.

Release of Products and Promotions by Travel Agencies

According to the notice, travel agencies and online tourism companies can begin releasing and launching products, promotions, and other preparation work on Friday. The 40 countries in the second batch represent Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, bringing the total number of countries and regions in the programme to 66.

South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the US are not in the second batch. Some of the four countries have not lifted COVID-19 control restrictions for travellers from China.

Searches for International Flight Tickets Jump After the Announcement

Following the publication of the notice, searches for international flight tickets increased by 185% in one hour, according to data from the Alibaba-owned travel website Fliggy.

Outbound Travel to Return to 50-60 Percent of 2019 Level

“It is another policy boost for the tourism industry [after the first phase of the pilot program], which has been embarking on a quick recovery. It also shows the resumption is being carried out in a phased, stable, and orderly manner, which is beneficial to guarantee the safety and experience of outbound Chinese tourists,” said Xu Xiaolei, marketing manager at China’s CYTS Tours Holding Co.

Xu expects China’s outbound travel to return to between 50 and 60 per cent of the 2019 level this year. According to the Financial Times, China’s resumption of outbound group tours could bring more than $200 billion back to international tourism.

The resumption of group tour services to more countries occurs earlier than anticipated by the industry, with some predicting that more countries would be added at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter, in order to capitalise on the traditional “travel golden period” beginning in May.

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