China travel firms say it will take time to return to pre-pandemic normalcy

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China travel firms say it will take time to return to pre-pandemic normalcy

Industry players said that people looking to enter or out of China may have to wait until the middle of the year before travel returns to pre-pandemic normalcy.

China reopened its borders on Sunday January 8, scrapping quarantine requirements and most travel restrictions that have isolated the country over the last three years.

After discouraging non-essential outbound travel since the epidemic began, it started processing travel documents such as passports and visas for citizens.

Many Chinese residents CNA spoke to are not in a rush to go abroad despite the fact that there is pent-up demand for overseas travel.

Ms Jane Sun, the chief executive of China's largest online travel platform Trip.com Group, said it would take some time for travel providers to ramp up to pre-pandemic levels.

The airlines need to increase the travel routes back to 2019 levels, hotels need to open up as many rooms as possible. She added that local tour operators need to have the capacity to receive customers into their region.

There are also uncertainties and inconveniences, as some countries have imposed COVID 19 requirements on Chinese travellers.

Ms Sun said travellers from China may avoid those destinations for now.

We think the first half of the year will still be in a transition period. She said that business could go back to normal in the second half of the year, compared to 2019.