Foreign Travel to China Nowhere Near Full Recovery

By Alistair Baker-Brian, August 18, 2023

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Figures released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics show how many inbound foreign travelers arrived in Beijing and Shanghai in the first half of 2023... and the numbers are nowhere near those of pre-COVID-19 levels. 

Between January and June, in Beijing there were 407,900 inbound trips made by foreign travelers, just under 11% of the same number for 2019.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai that number was just over 1.24 million, 13.8% of the same number for 2019, reports Phoenix Net.

According to the National Immigration Administration, 168 million entries and exits to and from the Chinese mainland were made in the first half of 2023.

This represents a 169.6% increase on the first half of 2022 when COVID restrictions were still in place; and represents 48.8% of the same number from the first half of 2019. 

Of the aforementioned exits and entries in 2023, some 80.28 million were made by residents of the Chinese mainland, around 74.9 million by residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and just 8.44 million by foreign nationals.

According to Statista, the number of inbound foreign arrivals to China was 138.48 million in 2017, 141.2 million in 2018 and 145.31 million in 2019.

That number then dropped to 27.47 million in 2020 – the year in which China imposed strict entry policies due to COVID-19 – and is yet to recover. 

WechatIMG5346.jpg

Screengrab via Statista

Numbers from the Bureau of Statistics show that in the first quarter of 2023, there were 52,000 foreign nationals who traveled to the Chinese mainland as part of tour groups – that number was 3.7 million in 2019. 

In a piece entitled ‘Nation Urged to Boost Inbound Tourism Market,’ China Daily quoted Hu Jiying – Deputy General Manager of CYTS International Travel Co. – who cited “time-consuming visa application procedures” and “expensive international flight tickets” as hampering market recovery. 

Hu also suggested further promotion of inbound tourism to China in overseas markets.


[Cover image via Weibo/@上海成雨]

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