It has been a while since I have talked about the pandemic. The worst of it seems like a long-ago dream in many ways. Travel is booming, you are busier than ever, and the world is open! There was one very large country that remained closed though: China.
As we all remember, the world heard about a new virus coming out of Wuhan, China, and…you know the rest. Throughout the pandemic, China has retained its strict protocols with the goal of “zero Covid.” At this point however, they have made the decision to move away from this policy and open its borders.
I do need to pour a bit of cold water on the news: if you want to see the Great Wall of China next week, you will need to have some patience. This latest move doesn’t apply to the average foreign tourist. It is, however, fabulous news for Chinese citizens who want to travel abroad. And with China currently being the world's most populous country, I have no doubt this is great news for inbound U.S. tourism.
I also think it’s a very positive sign towards the imminent future when travel advisors will be able to confidently book travel to China. It is a fascinating country, with an almost overwhelming number of things to see and do. If you have clients interested in traveling there, it might be a good idea to proactively reach out, explain what this decision really means, and encourage them to think about planning a trip to China—maybe just not right now. TLN member Angela Hughes talked to the Washington Post on this topic and had some thoughts:
- “Once it opens up, it’s going to be sizzling hot.”
- “Going as soon as China allows won’t be for everybody. Hughes says first-time visitors, families or more risk-averse travelers may want to wait until 2024, when the situation becomes more stable. More adventurous travelers are another story. ‘I’m definitely going to go right when it opens,’ Hughes said.”
- “Hughes predicts China, like Japan, might only allow tourist groups at first, and that such options are limited. She says the cruise market for China could rebound faster than the traditional ‘land market’ because it could offer a smoother experience for travelers.”
There you have it—loosening restrictions on the Covid starting point is a very positive development!