During the recent May Day holiday, a 13-member Indonesian group enjoyed six-day tour visiting several eastern Chinese cities, including Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou and Wuxi.
Yang Tik Cin, an Indonesian tourist, traveled with his family."In just a few days, we experienced the profound historical and cultural heritage of the West Lake in Hangzhou and the classic gardens in Suzhou, and witnessed the rapid development and infinite vitality of the Chinese economy in Shanghai."
The family were impressed by the warm hospitality of the cities and local residents. "In Suzhou, we even received a special welcome from the local tourism department. Everyone received a souvenir, a Suzhou-style fan," he added.
The group was the second Indonesian tourist group to visit East China after the resumption of foreign group tours for inbound foreigners by travel agencies and online tourism enterprises across China. Hangzhou Nota International Travel Service, the agency that received the group, said it has welcomed hundreds of Indonesian tourists to China since April 21.
Indonesia is a major source of foreign tourists to China. Weng Jie, manager of the agency's inbound center, said that since China optimized its COVID-19 response measures and adjusted the relevant travel restrictions, the travel agency has been laying out its plan for the Indonesian market.
"Right after Chinese New Year, we went to Jakarta, Indonesia, to sign a partnership agreement with Sriwijaya Air and five of the most influential local travel agencies, in a bid to jointly promote travel packages to China," Weng said.
The Indonesian travel group, which began its journey on April 21, was supported by the visa office of the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia. It was the first Indonesian group to receive tourist visas to China this year. "From mid-May,'Jakarta-Hangzhou' will become a regular travel route, with weekly flights bringing Indonesian tourists to East China," Weng explained.
China's outbound tourism has also experienced a boom. Data from Alibaba's travel branch, Fliggy, show that orders for outbound trips during the May Day holiday increased by 200 percent compared to January's Spring Festival.
Another leading travel platform, Trip.com Group, formerly known as Ctrip, reported that during the May Day holiday, outbound travel orders increased nearly 700 percent from the same period of 2022. The number of outbound air tickets and hotel orders surged by nearly 900 percent and 450 percent, respectively.
Inbound trips also rebounded quickly. According to Trip.com Group, inbound trips via Hainan rose sharply by 87 percent from March.
Meanwhile, the Youyi Pass on the China-Vietnam border recorded 2,233 passengers from 104 tour groups from April 29 to 30, the first two days of the May Day holiday.
"China has huge potential in its inbound tourism sector," said Sun Jie, CEO of Trip.com Group.
Aside from bringing in foreign currency, inbound tourism can help create more jobs, enhance China's international status, promote the image of a beautiful China, and act as a cultural bridge to boost international exchanges and world peace, Sun added.
As a result, tourism companies are recruiting more staff. Tour guides who are proficient in languages such as Indonesian and Thai are in demand, said Weng.
Starting from May 1, China has allowed virtual APEC Business Travel Card holders to enter China. The card serves as a substitute for a visa. Such policies have provided positive signals and boosted inbound tourism.