Beijing: Chinese tourists flocked to the Middle East during the eight-day Golden Week holiday, as popular travel destinations like Dubai roll out free visas and increase flight capacity, according to Trip.com Group.
Year-on-year visitation to the region climbed three digits, CEO Jane Sun said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, without providing a specific figure. Chinese demand was curtailed last year as strict Covid Zero rules discouraged travel both domestically and abroad.
Thailand, which also grants free visas to Chinese tourists, has proved popular, said Sun. So has Singapore, which has been leading the region in flight capacity recovery, she said.
China was the world’s biggest source of outbound tourism in 2019, and its rebound is critical for the global sector. So far though, Chinese travelers have signaled they’re apprehensive about taking expensive overseas trips, instead splashing their cash on domestic travel and other experiences closer to home.
Hurdles to a recovery in outbound travel include a long visa application process for some destinations as well as flight capacity constraints, according to Sun. For travelers wanting to go to Europe, getting a Schengen visa can take six months or longer, she said.
Those constraints have slowed the pace of the recovery in long-haul international travel among Chinese, such as to Europe and the US. The total number of searches for trips through the company has already exceeded 2019 levels, Sun said.