Travelers up, up and away thanks to new policies
The relaxation of COVID-19 control policies has triggered a surge in inbound and outbound air ticket orders for departures on the day, according to travel operators.
Starting from January 8, the country has ended central quarantine for international arrivals and scrapped flight bans, with COVID-19 now downgraded from Class A to Class B in infectious disease management.
The orders of inbound and outbound flights soared 628 percent with departures on the day from the same period last year, posting a peak since March 2020, online travel operator Tongcheng Travel said on Sunday.
Among these, orders of inbound flights account for 48 percent and the rest is outbound, it said.
The destinations of Chinese outbound travelers are for more than 100 cities in 53 countries and regions.
The relaxed COVID policies and family reunion demand for the upcoming Spring Festival are behind the significant increase, the travel operator said.
Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu and Nanning are the most popular destinations of inbound flights on the day, the travel operator announced based on statistics.
Tickets for direct flights from Seoul to Nanjing, Phnom Penh to Nanning and Bangkok to Guiyang had already been sold out one week prior to departure.
Air tickets from Hong Kong to the mainland have grown 62 percent on the day as well.
Notably, many passengers delayed their return scheduled in December last year following the announcement of the relaxed policies, Tongcheng Travel said.
For those scheduled to take flights between December 27 and January 7, 51 percent changed their schedule to after January 8 or obtained refunds their tickets.
Cambodia, South Korea, the United States, Japan and Singapore are popular overseas destinations for outbound flights from China.
Shanghai-based online travel operator Trip.com said on Sunday that Asian destinations with friendly inbound policies for Chinese travelers are more favored.
Since December 27, its visa orders to Singapore soared more than 30 times from the same period a year earlier, and the growth was also remarkable for visa orders to Malaysia and Thailand, it said.
"The return of Chinese tourists is highly expected for all tourism destinations in the world," said Shen Jiayi, a tourism analyst.
"It is expected to significantly boost the Asian tourism market."
The most expensive air ticket order on Trip.com since the announcement is worth more than 170,000 yuan, involving four tickets from Shanghai to San Francisco.
Hotel orders involving overseas destinations increased significantly as well, hitting more than 500 percent since the announcement of the relaxed policies from the same period a year earlier.
Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Milan have witnessed the largest growth, Trip.com said.
Shanghai Spring Tour said its visa application orders have grown 20 percent since the announcement of the relaxed policies with Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, France and the United States popular destinations.
"Most outbound travelers at present are visiting families or are on business trips," said Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager of Shanghai Spring Tour.
"We are screening resources and transportation for outbound destinations, as well as having discussions with our partners about relevant products."
There has been a change in tourists' travel demands with small tour groups and personalized and tailoring tours highlighted, the travel agency said.