Travel forums said Wednesday that Beijing unexpectedly lowered the Kovid-19 Quarantine standards, which increased online searches for airline tickets on international routes with China, a sign of demand after two years of tough sanctions.
Border restrictions hit business travel and reduced the number of Chinese going abroad to Thailand’s beaches or South Korea’s shopping streets, which have been dependent on their habits over the past decade.
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China’s Kunar said searches on its travel platform doubled in less than an hour after news of passengers arriving from overseas had been halved.
Purchases of international travel tickets increased by 60% over the past week, it added.
Rival platform Ly.com has reported similar increases in searches and flagged the interest of tickets to China from places like Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
Shares in mainland tourism companies were mostly flat on Wednesday, however, as concerns about inflation and the possibility of a recession returned after a jump of more than 5% in the previous day’s news.
Groups welcome Chinese relaxation, from foreign business rooms to travel operators.
But many sounded a cautionary note, saying they were not expecting a quick resume, considering the lack of flights and the limitations of new passports for the Chinese.
Airlines flying to China have to limit their load factors by 40% to 75%. The country has a “circuit breaker” system that requires carriers to discontinue flights if they have a certain number of covid-positive passengers.
As of Tuesday, the number of international airlines, including regional flights to Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, was only 4% of pre-Kovid levels this year, according to advisory veriflight.
Ticket prices are also higher than usual. For example, between July and September, one-way tickets to Singapore’s Chinese business center Shanghai on China Eastern Airlines cost between 50,000 and 70,000 yuan ($ 7,460 and $ 10,594).
“International group travel cannot be arranged,” said Zhou Weihang, deputy general manager of the Shanghai-based travel agency Spring Tour.
China’s easing has sparked widespread debate over its Twitter-like Weibo platform, attracting more than 28 million views. “This is great news today, especially for those working abroad,” one commentator said Tuesday.
New local cases have drastically reduced since the height of China’s recent outbreak in April and May, which has brought severe lockdowns in several cities, including the largest Shanghai.
Still, China has vowed to adhere to its stringent sanctions while the rest of the world is trying to survive with the virus.
On Wednesday, President Xi Jinping said the ruling Communist Party’s strategy to tackle the Kovid-19 epidemic must be “right and effective” and firmly committed.
Mainland China reported 129 new cases of coronavirus on June 28, of which 24 had no symptoms and 105 had no symptoms, the National Health Commission said Wednesday, less than 100 new cases the previous day.
This story was published by Wire Agency Feed without modification to the text.