With the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions for those traveling to the Chinese mainland, many within in China are now inevitably considering flying overseas.
While many are clearly keen to take a trip abroad, international flights between the Chinese mainland and elsewhere still need time to recover, according to one travel industry expert.
Guo Le Chun is Assistant Director of Chinese travel platform Qunar.com’s Big Data Research Institute. He told China Daily that, while the loosening of restrictions would allow for more international flights, said flights would need time to be approved.
According to Guo, scheduled international routes following the announcement that restrictions would be loosened amount to around 400. Even if all of these routes are in operation, this still only amounts to around 10% of international flights compared with 2019.
As a result, international flights are set to remain expensive in the short term.
When will China’s international flights get back to normal?
Guo predicts that demand will recover by around the end of March, a prediction which factors in the time required for flights to be approved, as well as the time needed for many Chinese nationals to renew out-of-date passports; he expects the number of international flights, as well as ticket prices, to be largely back to normal by this time.
Overseas travel for those on the Chinese mainland will likely peak during the summer holidays in 2023.
Travel Platforms Report Spike in Online Searches
China’s major travel platforms say that recent data shows a surge in online searches related to international travel.
Ctrip – the international version of which is known as Trip.com – reports that searches for some of the most popular overseas locations have increased by around 10 times; the platform says that searches for overseas flight tickets and hotels is at a 3-year high.
Mafengwo reports that searches related to overseas travel have gone up 460% since the announcement of loosened restrictions. Some of the most popular destinations include Bangkok, Tokyo, Chiang Mai, Singapore and Osaka.
Meanwhile, Tongcheng (同程) – a travel platform based in Suzhou, Jiangsu province – reports an 850% increase in searches for international flights; popular routes include those to Bangkok, Tokyo, Seoul, Los Angeles and Singapore.
On Chinese social media platform, Weibo, tourism boards and embassies from all over the world have posted messages welcoming Chinese tourists.
A message from VisitScotland reads, "Scotland awaits your exploration." Image via Weibo/@苏格兰旅游局
A message from France's Embassy in China welcoming "Chinese friends" to France. Image via Weibo/@法国驻华大使馆
A message from Tourism Australia reads, "We'll meet when flowers are blooming." Image via Weibo/@澳大利亚旅游局
Any plans to travel overseas next year?
[Cover image via Pixabay]