China announced on Thursday the resumption of group tours to another 78 countries, including popular destinations such as Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
The announcement led to a surge in inquiries made to travel agencies, which quickly added new travel options to these countries.
China had resumed outbound group tours to 60 countries in February and March.
Since the trial resumption of outbound group travel for Chinese citizens, the overall outbound tourism market has remained stable and well-organized, playing a positive role in tourism exchanges and cooperation, the notice said.
In 2019, before the pandemic hit, China had the largest outbound tourism market in the world, with 169 million trips made that year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
With international passenger flights continuing to resume and more Chinese people ready to travel overseas, China has decided to resume outbound group tours to more countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday.
The statement advised outbound tourists to prepare well before their journey, and stay safe and healthy as they travel. Government departments concerned will provide businesses in the tourism sector with the necessary guidance, it added.
Online travel services provider Trip.com Group reported a more than twentyfold increase in outbound travel inquiries following the announcement, particularly for the weeklong National Day holiday in October.
The company, buoyed by the announcement, quickly introduced nearly 1,000 new travel products. As outbound group travel offers increase, the costs are expected to decrease, and prices are likely to become more affordable, it said.
The number of outbound tourism bookings made by Trip.com users on the Chinese mainland surged by 44 percent between June and July. Popular destinations include Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Macao.
Meanwhile, the number of weekly international flights so far this month has rebounded to more than 50 percent compared with the same period in 2019, and ticket prices have dropped by 80 percent compared with the same period last year, figures from Trip.com showed.
Data from on-demand service giant Meituan showed that the number of searches for hotel accommodations abroad increased sevenfold on average following the announcement. The number of searches on Meituan for hotels in South Korea soared fifteenfold and the same for Japan increased twelvefold.
Lu Mengxi, head of Meituan cultural and tourism research institute, said that based on the popularity of outbound travel products on the platform, the interest and willingness for outbound travel among Chinese people are growing.
The new policy will further unleash the potential of tourism consumption and add new confidence to the global economic recovery, she said.
According to China Tourism Academy, travelers from the Chinese mainland have made 40.37 million outbound trips in the first half of this year, with 94 percent of them visiting Asian destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Hong Kong and Macao were the most popular overseas travel destinations during the period, according to the academy.
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