Searches for tours surge after the lift of restrictions on interprovincial travel

Hu Min
China's tourism ministry has eased restrictions on interprovincial travel, but inbound and outbound group tour services for overseas travel remain suspended.
Hu Min

The number of searches for interprovincial tours increased significantly after an optimzed management policy was announced.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in a statement on Tuesday night that interprovincial trips in the country organized by travel operators will no longer be suspended based on the classification of a COVID-19 risk region.

The linkage between interprovincial tour operation activities and risk regions has been eliminated as a result of the notification. Passengers must have a 48-hour negative nucleic acid test report in order to board airplanes, trains, interprovincial coaches and ships.

Soon after the issuance of the notification, Shanghai-based online travel agency reported that interprovincial tour searches had hit a peak since the National Day holiday, as had interprovincial FIT (free and independent) tour searches.

Zhang Zhining, a tourism analyst for, predicted that the policy would boost travel plans among the public.

Online travel operator Tongcheng-eLong said the searches for its group tour products soared over 600 percent within the hour after the release of the notification from the same duration one day earlier, and the growth was 182 percent and 97 percent for air and train tickets, respectively.

Ski, hot spring, and beach resort tours were the most popular.

"Domestic interprovincial tours will rebound quickly following the relaxation in the short term, but it will be a long time before the travel industry makes a full recovery similar to the pre-pandemic times," said Zhang Mingyang, a tourism analyst with Tongcheng-eLong.

Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager of Shanghai Spring Tour, claimed that the policy allayed tourists' concerns and would considerably help tourism.

"It is encouraging and casts a ray of hope for the winter tourism market," she added.

Under the notification, travel agencies and online tour operators are still prohibited from operating overseas inbound and outbound group tours and packages that include both hotel accommodations and airline tickets.

Group tour businesses in border port cities also remain suspended.

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