Chinese are back booking travel

SINGAPORE, 3 January 2023: Group data shows China’s outbound flight bookings surging for the upcoming Lunar New Year, which extends at least one week from Sunday, 22 January and heralds the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit.

Less than two weeks after China officially abolishes its quarantine restrictions for inbound visitors on 8 January 2023, the country will celebrate its traditional Lunar New Year holiday. Chinese travellers can once more embark on overseas leisure trips. Group’s latest booking data reveals that searches for trips during the national holiday to hot spots have grown significantly to Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the US, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and the UK. Searches for package tour products during the Lunar New Year break also soared six-fold.

On 27 December alone, Group recorded a staggering 254% increase in mainland China’s outbound flight bookings compared to a day earlier.

Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand led the booking surge as the most popular destinations for air travellers after almost three years of the border closure.

Singapore was the fastest-growing of all the destinations, with flight bookings leaping six-fold, followed by an average 400% jump in airline ticket orders for the other four destinations. Moreover, bookings for long-haul flights to the United Kingdom, the US and Australia also grew.

Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hangzhou claimed the top five places as the most popular cities of departure in light of online searches for outbound flights. Meanwhile, the booming demand for international travel is further mirrored by a spike in interest among overseas tourists looking to visit China. Group data also shows that bookings for inbound flights to China on 27 December rocketed 412%. Australia, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong topped the list as the largest sources of inbound travellers.

Reissuing passports for business and tourism

China’s National Immigration Administration confirmed that effective 8 January 2023, it will handle Chinese citizens’ applications for ordinary passports for tourism and resume permit issuance for mainland residents to visit Hong Kong for tourism and business purposes.

China announced on 26 December that the management of Covid-19 would be downgraded to a Class B infection from 8 January 2023, which includes removing the requirement for nucleic acid tests and quarantine for international arrivals from the same date. 

In addition, the National Immigration Administration will also resume the acceptance and approval of Chinese citizens’ applications for ordinary passports for tourism and overseas visits.

Mainland Chinese tourists were an important part of the travel landscape before the pandemic, having made 155 million outbound trips and spent more than USD130 billion overseas in 2019. 

Dragon Trail International reports that visa services for foreigners travelling to China are on the list to resume, but no firm dates have been announced. As of late December 2022, foreigners could apply for visas to enter China for business or family reunions, study, or work. Holders of APEC business travel cards can also enter China without a new visa. Before the summer of 2022, entry into the country was only permitted for foreign residents with work permits. From 8 January 2023, China’s visa-free transit policies for foreigners will be re-implemented.


China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism suspended the sale of outbound group travel packages on 27 January 2020. As of 28 December 2022, there have been no announcements on lifting the ban, but Dragon Trail International said changes are imminent, possibly in time for the Lunar New Year.

(Source: Group and Dragon Trail International)


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