The resumption of outbound travel by Chinese tourists has brought a much-needed boost to the tourism industry in East Asian countries, which suffered a severe blow from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Ctrip, a major Chinese travel service provider, bookings for overseas tours from the Chinese mainland increased by more than 18 times year-on-year, and the number of applications for overseas group tours in early May increased by 157 percent month-on-month.
Thailand, a popular destination for Chinese travelers, has seen a 30-fold increase in the number of Chinese visitors from January 1 to April 23, compared to the same period last year.
“The Chinese tourists are back,” said Suchart, who has spent nearly 10 years working in a small shop on Pattaya Beach, a popular tourist destination in southern Thailand. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand in early 2020, Chinese tourists accounted for the majority of the shop’s customers. But the pandemic-induced closure of the beach dealt a heavy blow to the small businesses that rent out beach chairs and speedboats.
China was the largest contributor to outbound tourism, with 170 million trips, bringing in 253 billion U.S. dollars for the global economy in 2019, according to a report. But Chinese tourists’ spending fell sharply after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
China relaxed travel restrictions earlier this year and resumed group tours to up to 60 countries. The May Day holiday, the first extended holiday that features a five-day break, will serve as a barometer of the recovery of Chinese outbound travel, analysts say.
The return of Chinese tourists has been long-awaited in Italy, and they are bringing huge benefits to our tourism industry.
An average of around 10,000 Chinese tourists arrive in Thailand on a daily basis currently, and the number is expected to grow, said Wangpichayasuk from Thailand’s Kasikorn Research Center. She predicted that Chinese tourists will outnumber those from other countries in 2023, just as they did in the years before the pandemic.