China Boosts International Travel as Demand Surges

by Alice

BEIJING — In early April, Xiao Ying and her husband embarked on a honeymoon trip from Beijing to Geneva, marking their first journey since the pandemic halted international flights. This flight, reinstated in February 2023, symbolizes a major revival in Chinese tourism.

“The resumed flight offered us more choices in travel destinations,” Xiao remarked.


In the first quarter of 2024, Chinese tourists spent 153,723 nights in Switzerland, a 92.2 percent increase from the previous year, according to 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 at Switzerland-based LOTO Travel Agency AG. “Additionally, visa procedures have been simplified for Chinese travelers.”


To meet the rising demand for outbound travel, China has increased flight capacity and expanded favorable visa policies for its citizens.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) reported that international passenger flights have returned to about 73 percent of pre-pandemic levels. In April, flights between China and countries like the UK, UAE, Italy, Qatar, and Turkey exceeded those of the same period in 2019, according to Flight Manager, an aviation information provider.

Currently, international flights connect China with 70 countries, including five new destinations since the pandemic: Kuwait, Serbia, Tanzania, Luxembourg, and Papua New Guinea. Recent new routes include Beijing-Madrid and Shenzhen-Mexico City.

China has also implemented visa-free policies to facilitate easier travel for its citizens. Agreements or simplified visa procedures have been reached with over 40 countries, with mutual visa exemption established with more than 20, including Thailand, Singapore, the Maldives, and the UAE. Additionally, over 60 countries and regions offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival policies to Chinese travelers.

Following the implementation of a visa-free entry policy for Malaysia on December 1, 2023, 168,000 Chinese tourists visited within a month, a 35.1 percent increase from November, reported Tourism Malaysia Director-General Manoharan Periasamy. Malaysia is enhancing the visitor experience by deploying Chinese-speaking staff at key entry points and collaborating with airlines to offer direct flights from smaller Chinese cities.

China’s outbound tourism continues to gain momentum. During the recent May Day holiday, 1.897 million trips were made by Chinese tourists to nearly 200 countries and regions, making China 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,” Shi added. “People-to-people exchanges and mutual understanding will also be enhanced.” The travel agency is improving its services to welcome more Chinese tourists.



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