At first blush, the outlook for travel from China to the United States—once both countries can move beyond the COVID-90 danger zone—seemed upbeat, with signals from official China suggesting that the two nations could lead the way out of that zone starting in September. Then came more of “it.”
“It” is the growing tangle of government actions and positions that, unresolved or left in place, imperil the official sense of comity required to fuel healthy inbound tourism to the United States from China. Nothing illustrates this as does the action last week in which the U.S., the European Union, the UK and Canada imposed sanctions on several Chinese officials for human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang province; this, in turn, prompted quick retaliation from China, which announced its own sanctions against 10 European individuals and four institutions, saying they had “maliciously spread lies and disinformation.”
Then, last week there was yet another deeply troublesome development. Russell Jeung, co-founder of the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate, told the Axios’ news site—based in the national capital region, is focuses on political news—that The U.S.-China relationship is at its lowest point in decades. Tensions between the two countries are reflected in U.S. policies and leaders’ rhetoric that at times conflate Chinese people with China’s government and can fuel anti-Asian racism in the U.S.
So, Will we be able to get to “Yes?” No one in the tourism industry seems to offer a proposal that has real teeth in it. Mostly, most in the industry are expressing a lot of hope that something will happen that will enable a free flow of travel between the two countries.
A First Source Sees Chinese Air Passenger Growth: Data recently presented by tourism industry indicators are encouraging. China’s outbound tourism industry is going to basically return to pre-pandemic normal level in five years, according to the travel analytics company ForwardKeys, which projected that the world’s second biggest economy will see its outbound travel sector return to just 25 percent of the 2019 level this year.
ForwardKeys also said that by 2026 Chinese outbound tourism will recover to 98 percent of the 2019 level and that by 2030, the market size will be more than 1.5 times it was prior to COVID-19.
A Second Source Agrees—There will be a return to travel, with growth in in China, with new trends to follow. A second analysis of future air traffic growth in China came in a report from m1nd-set, a research agency based in Vevey, Switzerland. The company’s key sector of activity is airline, aircraft manufacturer, airport and travel retail research and consulting. It was sourced for this article by https://ftnnews.com/.
Some other findings of the m1nd-set study and analysis include the following:
—The growth forecasts come despite travel restrictions imposed ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, which saw 28 million Chinese consumers in lockdown following a renewed outbreak of the Covid pandemic in the northern Heilongjiang and Hebei provinces.
—Improved testing and containment measures, accompanied by the arrival of a vaccine, the latest outbreak is not expected to generate as significant a blow as when the pandemic first erupted over 12 months ago.
—Traveler behavioral trends have changed considerably in China since the outbreak of the pandemic, and Chinese travelers are now paying significantly greater attention to health and safety measures, practicing greater hygiene when travelling.
—The impact of the Covid-19 vaccine and how it will affect the Chinese traveler’s desire to travel and their planned shopping behavior is also analyzed in the research.
—More than half (53 percent) of Chinese travelers interviewed said their household income was negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic, moderately lower than the global average of 55%, with a drop of between 5 percent and 20 percent compared to pre-Covid levels in China
—In terms of international travel uptake, one third of Chinese travelers said they would travel again not immediately, but within the first 6 months after restrictions are lifted..
—The Covid-19 vaccine will inevitably have a highly positive impact in China as 97 percent of Chinese travelers are willing to receive the vaccine, the majority of whom said they would prefer to get vaccinated as early as possible. The Chinese are more likely to consider traveling again if they have received the vaccine compared to global travelers (39 percent vs 31 percent).
Clara Susset, m1nd-set’s travel retail research director, commented: “Communication is key to post-Covid recovery in China. The industry will need to work collectively to restore traveler confidence and entice them back into the stores. It will be essential to provide easy access to clear information about health and safety measures at the airport and potential delays throughout the airport journey due to modified security measures and procedures.”She added, “Chinese travelers express a clear preference—and a greater tendency than global travelers—for digital technology such as QR Codes … “as a means to learn more about products and brands in the Duty Free shops, search for specific products and check prices before purchasing. The research reveals a number of new such trends and provides recommendations on how to approach this all-important market to ensure the travel retail sector is able to benefit from the Chinese recovery as best possible.”
To purchase the full m1nd-set report, contact: [email protected]