China’s easing COVID travel restrictions spark travel inquiry surge

Penni Schewe


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Online lookups for Chinese airline tickets on domestic and intercontinental routes surged on Wednesday, soon after Beijing explained it would slash COVID-19 quarantine specifications and made variations to a point out-mandated cellular app employed for nearby travel.

The sudden moves mark a considerable easing of rigid curbs that have severely curtailed vacation and battered China’s economic climate, whilst rough actions continue being in location which includes a scarcity of international flights, and numerous social media users voiced caution.

The marketplace ministry claimed on Wednesday that a Chinese cell application that shows whether a particular person has traveled in a Chinese metropolis with COVID-afflicted parts will no for a longer time mark that record with an asterisk, just one of the quite a few implies China has of monitoring and curbing the virus’s probable unfold.


The asterisk aided community authorities to impose curbs this sort of as quarantines and COVID tests, and sparked popular grievances.

Travelers walk at a terminal hall of the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, on March 23, 2022.

Travelers wander at a terminal corridor of the Beijing Capital Intercontinental Airport in Beijing, China, on March 23, 2022.
(REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)

“It seems to be like a modest action, but is a alternatively massive phase,” a consumer wrote on the Twitter-like Weibo, exactly where the announcement promptly grew to become the leading subject matter with much more than 200 million views.

It came a working day just after Beijing eased quarantine procedures and as Shanghai resumed cafe eating next a two-month lockdown that introduced China’s greatest town to a halt and infuriated citizens.

The two procedures brought on a surge in travel inquiries.

The Qunar platform reporting that lookups for air tickets rose 60% and doubled for motels in the 30 minutes soon after Wednesday’s announcement.

Rival claimed a related rise, and flagged a jump in desire for tickets to China from areas which includes Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

Wait around and See Strategy

China’s zero-COVID policies have pretty much wholly wiped out global enterprise and leisure travel, although domestic journey has also been strike hard by China’s reaction to outbreaks in April and May well of the extremely infectious Omicron variant, which introduced drastic lockdowns in a number of metropolitan areas.

This week’s easing measures follow a current dramatic lessen in locally transmitted infections.

“It’s as well shortly to inform how substantially this will encourage persons to vacation as in all probability they will however require to deal with fairly stringent testing needs where ever they journey domestically,” claimed Ben Cavender, controlling director at China Market Exploration Team.

Even though the rest of the world attempts to live with the virus, China has vowed to stick to its tricky curbs, with President Xi Jinping reiterating that the tactic was “proper and successful” and really should be firmly adhered to.

Several would-be travellers stated on social media and in chatrooms they had been getting a wait-and-see method prior to making an attempt to e book tickets, citing a scarcity of flights and govt restrictions on new passports for Chinese searching to go overseas for motives deemed non-crucial.

Most flights into China have been restricted to filling 75% of their seats. The region also has a “circuit breaker” process requiring carriers to suspend flights if they have a certain number of COVID-positive travellers.

On Tuesday, the variety of global flights, which include to Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, for this year stood at about 4% of pre-COVID amounts, according to consultancy Variflight.


Ticket price ranges are far above typical. Just one-way tickets from Singapore to China’s enterprise hub of Shanghai cost between 50,000 and 70,000 yuan ($7,460 and $10,590) on China Japanese Airways for the period of time concerning July and September, for instance.

“There are extremely number of flights, air ticket charges are sky-superior. In point it is not possible to prepare international team travel,” mentioned Zhou Weihong, deputy typical supervisor of Shanghai-dependent vacation company Spring Tour.


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