Outbound group tours get enthusiastic response among mainland travelers
en.hangzhou.com.cn   2023-02-01 11:05   Source: Global Times

Chinese tourism enterprises got off to a strong start in the Year of Rabbit, arranging outbound group tours ahead of the resumption of such programs on February 6. Many leading Chinese travel firms plan to fly out the first batch of tour groups on that day.

Around 40 to 50 group tours will depart from cities including Hangzhou and Shanghai on February 6, Xu Xiaolei, marketing manager at China's CYTS Tours, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager of China Spring Tour, said that two group tours will leave for Thailand on February 6 -- from Guangdong to Bangkok, and Shanghai to Phuket. 

Domestic travel agencies will resume outbound group tours to 20 countries on a trial basis from February 6, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced on January 20. Companies can release and launch products and promotions or undertake other preparations starting on the same day.

The tourism sector is going all-out to launch tours and promotions to embrace the significant revival in outbound travel. 

Online travel platform Trip.com has launched nearly 700 outbound group tours, covering 15 destination countries and regions, according to a statement the company sent to the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The destinations include Southeast Asian nations like Thailand and Indonesia. South Africa, Russia, New Zealand and Argentina are also listed destinations for the pilot group tours by the ministry.

Boosted by the long-awaited boom of travel during the Spring Festival, Chinese tourism enterprises expect a warm market response for outbound group tours. 

A white-collar worker based in China's Southwest Chongqing city told the Global Times that she plans an outbound group tour for her parents in February or March after three years of suspension. 

"As my parents are getting older, group tours with everything well planned and booked is more convenient," she said. 

Data from Trip.com showed that online views for its outbound group products have tripled, indicating an overwhelming market response. 

Among the initial announced destinations, those in Southeast Asia such as Thailand are favored by Chinese sightseers. 

According to Xu, Chinese tourists are eyeing trips to nearby destinations with easy entry procedures, a friendly attitude toward China, great familiarity and a more mature tourism infrastructure.

Taking Thailand as an example, Zhou noted that flights have recovered relatively fast with direct and affordable flights to Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai running daily. There are also visas on arrival. 

Industry insiders warned that it will take time for the sector to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. 

Xu expects a rebound during the summer travel peak with the market returning to the 2019 level around the National Day holidays in October. In 2023, travel will likely recover to 70-80 percent of the 2019 level. 

Enterprises need to focus on the recovery of the industry chain, and they should upgrade service and product quality to cope with changing conditions, such as travelers getting infected with the virus, said Xu. 

China's tourism posted a remarkable rebound during the Spring Festival. A total of 308 million domestic trips were made in China during the holidays, recovering to 88.6 percent of the 2019 levels, and domestic tourism revenue totaled 375.8 billion yuan ($55.63 billion), according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Author: GT staff reporters  Editor: Ye Lijiao