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Turning away Chinese Travelers Means Lost More

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2023-01-19 09:36:55 | Author: TANG Zhexiao

Thailand is expected to welcome at least 300,000 Chinese tourists in the first quarter of 2023. Tourists visit at Wat Chedi Luang Temple. (PHOTO: VCG)

Edited by TANG Zhexiao

Although international travel may not recover immediately to pre-pandemic levels, companies, industries and countries that rely on Chinese tourists will get a boost in 2023, according to the U.S. Cable News Network's report.

China was the world's most important source of international travelers.

Based on a report published by Indian daily Business Standard, China was the leading global spender in international travel until the end of 2019, with 155 million tourists spending more than a quarter of a trillion dollars overseas in 2019.

Data from Trip.com Group, a Chinese travel-booking company, suggested that outbound flight bookings have soared by more than 500 percent during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday (January 21-27), with average spending per booking up by 32 percent.

Steve Saxon, who leads McKinsey's travel practice in Asia, predicted that the recovery of China's outbound international travel and spending may reach half of its pre-pandemic level by the summer of 2023.

It is apparent that Chinese citizens outbound trips will boost the development of global tourism and stimulate economic recovery, as well as promote people-to-people exchanges.

But regrettably, a handful of countries including the U.S., Japan and South Korea have insisted on taking discriminatory entry restriction measures and visa controls targeting Chinese citizens.

Besides limiting flights and requiring PCR tests for Chinese visitors, South Korea stopped issuing short-term tourist visas for arrivals coming from China on January 2, saying the country's decision was based on scientific evidence.

Are these precautionary travel measures really rooted in science and non-discriminatory?

According to the Health Minister of Singapore, imported cases from China accounted for less than five percent of Singapore's total imported infections in the four weeks running up to January 1, which was far lower than the proportions of imported infections from other countries and regions.

WHO's Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, also noted that China has been sharing virus sequencing information with the international community, and the variants circulating in China are those that have already been seen in Europe and elsewhere.

According to Klugea, the new XBB.1.5 recombinant virus has already been spreading rapidly across the U.S., and a threat could come from a new variant of concern, anywhere, anytime.

In contrast, more countries are unwilling to follow South Korea's lead. Some of them have expressed their warm welcome to China's policy of optimized measures on cross-border travel.

On December 28, 2022, Germany said it saw no need to impose new travel restrictions, while Austria stressed the economic benefits of the prospects of seeing a return of Chinese tourists to Europe, according to Al Jazeera, an Arabic-language international radio and TV broadcaster.

The return of international tourists benefits employment and promotes the economy, said New Zealand tourism minister Stuart Nash, adding that tourism has directly employed more than 140,000 people in the year to March 2022.

According to financial service leader JPMorgan Chase, the return of international students from China will add about 0.4 percentage points to its GDP.

"This is one of the opportunities that we can accelerate [use to] economic recovery," said Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who welcomed Chinese tourists with flowers and gifts as they arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Samut Prakarn province, on January 9.

It is obvious that Chinese tourists have many options when it comes to outbound travel destinations.

COVID response measures should be fact-based, science-based and appropriate, but not discriminatory, especially, hindering normal cross-border travel and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation. Countries that turn away Chinese tourists on the pretext of pandemic prevention and control should rethink their actions.

Editor: 汤哲枭

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