Life & Leisure

Foreign tourism in China still far from pre-pandemic levels

Beijing, Aug 17 (EFE).- The city of Shanghai, one of the main destinations for foreign tourism in China, received some 756,000 foreign tourists in the first half of the year, 22 percent of those in 2019, despite the country’s reopening in January, state media China Daily reported Thursday.

In the first half of the year, there were 168 million arrivals and departures to and from mainland China, about 49 percent of the figure for the same period in 2019, according to the National Immigration Administration.

Hu Jiying, deputy director of a travel agency, told the newspaper that the majority of foreign visitors “were on business trips and attending conferences, while a few were here for sightseeing.”

“Until now, our tourism business from abroad is 5 percent to 10 percent of the pre-pandemic level,” Hu Jiying said.

Among the reasons given by the expert for the low number of foreign tourists are “the time-consuming visa application procedures and the price of plane tickets.”

“As China applied very strict entry policies to control the pandemic in 2022, most foreign agencies did not budget for the promotion of tourism to China when planning their promotional campaigns for 2023. We will see a recovery of inbound tourism after 2024,” he said.

China has taken steps to help international travelers in recent months.

Ubiquitous electronic payment services WeChat Pay and Alipay announced last month that their payment systems would be available to foreign users visiting China, as they sometimes find it difficult to pay in the country and use certain services.

Dai Bin, China’s tourism academy president, called for “developing a state-level plan to revitalize incoming tourism, in which priority should be given to improving the travel experiences of foreign visitors,” the newspaper reported.

China applied a strict “zero Covid-19” policy for almost three years that implied an almost total closure of borders: various types of visas were stopped being issued and only Chinese citizens and a small number of foreigners could enter the country. They then had to quarantine at least 14 days in a hotel assigned by authorities and paid for by the traveler.

The country began to dismantle the strategy at the end of 2022, and on Jan. 8, it reduced disease management from category A – level of maximum danger – to category B, marking the end of this policy and the end of quarantines. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button