China gearing up for international travel

DUBAI, 19 May 2021: International travel from China will be back to pre-Covid levels by 2023, according to CBN Travel & MICE CEO, Adam Wu, who made a presentation to delegates during the Arabian Travel Market 2021 hosted at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Wu said that China was ready for international travel and has already opened to airlines from 36 European and 13 Asian countries. Quoting China’s Civil Aviation Administration, he claimed 86 foreign and 19 Chinese airlines are now flying to 55 countries – 294 roundtrip flights to and from China every week.

He was speaking via video link during a conference panel session on the opening day of the show (16 May) and based his assertions on information from China’s Civil Aviation Administration. (Editor: Wu’s information was challenged by reader comments claiming it was fake news.)

Panellists at the ATM China Summit 2021.

He also cited a China-focused study on both traffic and shopper insights conducted by Swiss research agency m1nd-set that identified China’s robust consumer confidence and a relentless desire to travel, 2021.

“It will mark the beginning of a robust return to growth for the retail travel sector and should witness an increase of more than 200% in international departures during the year to reach around 30 million international departures.”

Wu forecasts China will reach its pre-Covid levels in 2023 when outbound traffic is forecast to reach 88 million following a 108% growth in 2022 and a further 44% in 2023.

Another panellist, Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism,  Zayed R. Alzayani, noted that it was a part of Bahrain’s international strategy to encourage more inbound tourists from China.

“Our initial strategy was to concentrate on local and regional travel first and then focus on international travel. At the end of 2019, we were ready and committed to start a campaign to bring Chinese visitors to Bahrain. We were planning a direct flight with Gulf Air, but then the pandemic hit and all of our plans were put on hold. China remains a priority,” he said.

On Sunday, the president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, CEO and founder of the Emirates Group and chairman of Dubai World, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, officially inaugurated the show, marking the start of the 28th edition of the Middle East’s largest travel and tourism exhibition.

Running through until Wednesday 19 May at the Dubai World Trade Centre, this year’s event has 1,300 exhibitors from 62 countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy, Germany, Cyprus, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, the Maldives, the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico and the US, underscoring the strength of ATM’s reach.

This year, for the first time in ATM history, a new hybrid format will mean a virtual ATM running a week later, from 24 to 26 May, to complement and reach a wider audience than ever before. ATM Virtual, which made its debut last year attracting 12,000 online attendees from 140 countries.

(Source: News ATM organisers)


  1. Good luck expecting 2023 to provide more travelers than pre Covid. This can only happen if all restrictions are lifted, including the vaccination requirements. As long as totalitarian dictates remain in force, there will never be the volume of travel as pre Covid.

  2. Yeah, just propaganda, China hasn’t opened up its border to anyone else than people who already held a residence permit before the pandemic.


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