Latest air ticketing data by ForwardKeys, a leading travel data and insights firm, shows that Chinese tourism recovery is still in progress, but it is advancing swiftly, compared to neighbouring Japan.
According to a press statement by ForwardKeys, four weeks after the initial lifting of travel restrictions, both countries showed similar levels of outbound travel recovery, at approximately 15 pc of pre-pandemic levels. However, in the subsequent months, a disparity emerged. By the 21–28-week mark, after restrictions were lifted, China’s outbound travel nearly reached 49 pc of its 2019 figures. In contrast, Japan only managed to recover to around 27 pc of the previous year’s numbers during the equivalent period.
During Q3, 2023, among the top 10 most resilient destinations for China outbound travel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands out by claiming the top spot with an impressive 6 pc growth compared to the levels seen in 2019, says ForwardKeys.
“The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an approved group tour destination. It maintains a robust relationship with China through its active participation in the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. In the context of post-pandemic recovery, Chinese airlines have played a pivotal role by contributing significantly to the restoration of flight capacity to the UAE, with seat availability almost matching the levels observed before the pandemic,” says Nan Dai, China Market Analyst of ForwardKeys.
Additionally, the UAE extends the convenience of visa-on-arrival options for Chinese travellers, a feature of considerable value, particularly given the extended visa application process that exists during the ongoing pandemic period. These factors collectively reinforce the UAE’s appeal as a resilient and accommodating destination for Chinese tourists, offering a seamless and accessible travel experience.
“Chinese travellers prefer Southeast Asia as a favoured destination region, primarily due to its increased accessibility through numerous flights and relatively relaxed visa restrictions,” adds Dai.
The UK and Australia are emerging as prominent long-haul markets, showcasing notable recovery trends. This resurgence can be attributed to a substantial rise in bookings from international students who typically plan their trips to return to school in August and September.
Macao has also recovered smartly in terms of mainland tourists, as it is only 2 pc below 2019 levels in Q3 of the current year. Both Singapore and Hong Kong are next in line, both 21 pc below the 2019 level, says data by ForwardKeys.