Outbound tourism won't be affected by COVID-19 in the long run, report says
Outbound tourism from China has come to a near standstill this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the sector will not be affected by the virus in the long run as the nation's economy is steadily recovering and people are still keen to see other parts of the world, a report by the China Tourism Academy said on Tuesday.
"We've pulled through the worst hour, and the best moments have yet to come," Yang Jingsong, a researcher at the academy, told an online news conference on Tuesday. "In the long run, outbound tourism will rebound sooner or later. The pandemic won't keep the market from heading toward a better future."
The desire for outbound tourism is still strong, Yang explained.
"People's aspirations to live a better life remain unchanged, which means the drive for a better future for the outbound tourism market remains unchanged," he said.
The latest figures from the National Bureau of Statistics reflect Yang's optimism. In the first three quarters of this year, China's GDP rose by 0.7 percent year-on-year, offering a solid foundation for the development of tourism.
Yang said efforts made by foreign destinations amid the pandemic have also boosted Chinese travelers' confidence in the eventual resumption of outbound travel.
"The destinations closed off their borders to better control the coronavirus while also offering help to companies mainly serving Chinese travelers to survive the pandemic," he said. "They're also continuing to promote their sites to Chinese travelers to lure visitors once outbound tourism restarts at the conclusion of the pandemic."
Outbound tourism has grown strongly in recent years.
The academy's report said Chinese travelers made 155 million outbound trips last year, up 3.3 percent year-on-year, and spent $133.8 billion at their destinations, a year-on-year increase of over 2 percent.
However, reeling from the COVID-19 shock, the number of outbound tourists plunged in the first half of this year as travel to foreign destinations was discouraged by the government to better curb the pandemic.
Tight restrictions imposed by the government to bring the pandemic under control saw the outbound travel market grind to a halt. Since late January, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has required all travel agencies to suspend the organization of group tours to outbound destinations.
In August, a survey by the World Tourism Alliance showed that about 95 percent of industry players said the first half of this year had been bad for business.