China’s slow reopening has little impact on leisure demand

China’s move to cut quarantine requirements, which kicked in last week (June 28), is sparking optimism for outbound corporate travel, but is less likely to spur inbound leisure demand.

Alexander Glos, CEO, China i2i Group, which provides B2B and B2C tourism-related services to international and domestic clients, said it was a move in the right direction as many companies depend on global trade, and doing business with and in China.

Glos: if quarantine requirements were to be cut to two or three days, we might see FIT travel take off

Glos continued: “These companies need to be at trade fairs, and staff have to travel to meet clients and do it more efficiently. It is a big change from 21 days quarantine.”

According to the National Health Commission, travellers entering China will be quarantined at centralised facilities for seven days, down from 14, followed by three days of self-monitoring, down from seven.

Glos noted Thailand reported receiving 25,000 business travellers from China in May and quoted a travel agent saying clients were taking trips to Thailand lasting a week or two in July.

“If quarantine requirements were to be cut to two or three days, we might see FIT travel take off,” he opined.

A travel agent catering to English-speaking markets told TTG Asia: “For visiting family members and existing residents trying to return from abroad, this (new quarantine requirement) is definitely an improvement.

“However, no tourist would subject himself to this for the sake of a holiday in a country that could get locked down at any time. China needs to drop its zero-Covid policy entirely for inbound business to recover.”

China Star founder Liu Ping agreed the new quarantine requirement is “not for tourists” and would not appeal to international incentives or meeting planners organising short China programmes.

Meanwhile, industry insiders report the Civil Aviation Authority of China is talking to airlines, granting extensions of services in July and August, and negotiating bubbles and corridors likely to focus on Hong Kong, South-east Asia, Korea and Japan.

The source shared: “Cathay Pacific is said to be hiring 4,000 staff to increase its frequency to the mainland in July and August following the appointment of Hong Kong’s new leader.

“It is a step-by-step process of China opening up,” he observed.

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