A spike in COVID cases further strained China’s health system and battered its economy. Beijing announced it would open its borders again in January after three years of being subject to COVID restrictions. People from China flocked to book overseas travel.
According to BBC News, the immigration department stated that passport applications for Chinese citizens would resume again starting from January 8.
Previously, China had announced on December 26 that beginning on January 8, there would no longer be a quarantine period for inbound travelers.
Since then, traffic on travel sites has increased.
As Euro News reported, data from the travel site Ctrip revealed that within 30 minutes of the news, searches for well-known cross-border destinations had multiplied by ten. Ctrip said that the most sought-after destinations were Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea.
Data from another platform, Qunar, revealed that searches for international flights increased seven-fold within 15 minutes after the news broke out. Again, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea topped the list.
Statista said Chinese tourists traveling abroad reached 155 million in 2019 before the epidemic. In 2020, the number fell to 20 million.
COVID is sweeping through China largely unchecked following the country’s recent policy U-turn this month. As a result, Chinese tourists won’t be able to enter all countries for fear of spreading the virus.
Japan and India require negative COVID tests for travelers from China when they arrive.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials are considering imposing new restrictions on visitors from China.
In a statement quoted by news agencies, U.S. officials said, “There are mounting concerns in the international community on the ongoing Covid-19 surges in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data.”