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China's OTAs Are Losing Market Share

Updated: Apr 5

An update on China's recovering travel industry.


"2023 Domestic Tourism Reservation Data Report": Digital Platforms Are Becoming Important Booking Channels

On February 27th, the China Tourism Academy released the "2023 Domestic Tourism Reservation Data Report". The report shows that social platforms and online communities have become important spaces for tourists to obtain, exchange, and consume travel-related content. Among the preferred channels for domestic market tourists to search for and book travel content, social platforms such as Douyin, Xiaohongshu, and Meituan account for the highest proportion (42.9%), followed by WeChat communities (26.7%) and OTA platforms (23.0%).



Civil Aviation Administration: Starting March 31st, China and the United States can operate 100 weekly regular passenger flights

Dai Jun, Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Administration's Operations Monitoring Center, stated at a press conference that starting from March 31st, Chinese and American airlines will be able to jointly operate 100 weekly regular passenger flights. The Civil Aviation Administration will continue to increase resource allocation, further optimize approval procedures, support Chinese and foreign airlines in increasing capacity according to market demand.


National Immigration Administration: Foreigners boarding flights to enter Pudong International Airport do not need a Chinese visa

On February 29th, Gong Yao, head of the Border Inspection Management Department of the National Immigration Administration, stated that foreign individuals boarding international or regional flights to enter Pudong International Airport do not need a Chinese visa. Immigration authorities will only conduct verification of international travel documents based on valid invitations filed by comprehensive management institutions in the business cooperation zone. Foreign individuals arriving on the international side can apply for port visas within the zone, facilitating business visits and other activities within China.



People's Bank of China will raise the single transaction limit for mobile payments for foreigners coming to China from 1000 to 5000 US dollars

At a recent policy briefing on March 1st, Zhang Qingsong, Deputy Governor of the People's Bank of China, stated that leading payment institutions will increase the single transaction limit for mobile payments for foreigners coming to China from 1000 to 5000 US dollars. The annual cumulative transaction limit will be lifted from 10,000 to 50,000 US dollars.


First International Cruise Since Pandemic brings 300 German Cruise Tourists for Tours in Beijing and Tianjin

Tianjin Tourism Group shared with us on February 28th that the German cruise ship "MS EUROPA" arrived at Tianjin International Cruise Homeport on the 26th, with over 300 German tourists visiting Beijing and Tianjin. This is the first international cruise ship carrying overseas tourists received since the resumption of cruise tourism in Tianjin in 2023.



China Southern Airlines to Launch New Direct Flight Route from Guangzhou to Doha

China Southern Airlines will launch a direct flight route from Guangzhou to the capital of Qatar, Doha, on April 22nd. The new Guangzhou to Doha route will be operated by Boeing 787 aircraft, with flights every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.


First Direct Passenger Flight Route from Shenyang to Moscow Opens

On February 28th, the first regular direct passenger flight route from Shenyang to Moscow opened. The Shenyang to Moscow route is the first intercontinental passenger flight route for China Eastern Airlines in Shenyang, and the first direct passenger flight route to Moscow in the northeastern region. It operates once a week on Wednesdays, departing from Shenyang at 12:50 p.m. The first flight achieved a passenger load factor of over 90%.


Resumption of Kunming to Maldives Flight Route

The passenger flight route from Kunming airport via Colombo, Sri Lanka to and from Male, Maldives resumed operation on February 28th. The flight operates every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, with a flight time of 5 hours from Kunming to the Maldives. As of February 28th, Kunming airport has resumed international routes to 25 destinations in 18 countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, the Maldives, and 13 other countries participating in group tourism pilot projects.


Air China Launches First Group of "Brilliant China Tours" from Los Angeles to Beijing

The first group of "Brilliant China Tours" from Los Angeles to Beijing, operated by Air China, departed from Los Angeles International Airport on February 25th. This is the first group of tourists from the United States to China after the epidemic. Peng Lei, General Manager of the North American Regional Headquarters of Air China, stated that in order to promote cultural exchanges between China and the United States and better meet the travel needs of passengers, Air China, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China and the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles, has launched innovative tourism products such as "Brilliant China Tours", which are welcomed by North American passengers.



China's International Regular Passenger Flights Recover Steadily, Adding 5 Countries

According to the Civil Aviation Administration, China's international regular passenger flights currently serve 64 countries, including 48 countries participating in the "Belt and Road" initiative. Among them, flights to 22 countries including Singapore, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Italy, New Zealand, Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, and Bangladesh have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, and Kuwait, Luxembourg, Tanzania, Serbia, and Papua New Guinea have been added as 5 new countries with flights. Since the Spring Festival travel season, China's international regular passenger flights have steadily recovered. From February 12th to 18th, Chinese and foreign airlines operated 5389 international regular passenger flights (each round trip counted as one flight), reaching 70.7% of the pre-pandmic level.


New Oriental Cultural and Tourism Brand Released

Chinese education juggernaut New Oriental is branching into the tourism business. On February 29th, the "New Oriental Cultural and Tourism" brand was officially launched. According to Beijing Business Daily reporters, the New Oriental Cultural and Tourism Group was established in October 2023, and has established provincial cultural and tourism companies in more than 20 provinces nationwide. It has also established around 30 municipal cultural and tourism companies. The new group will provide cultural and travel products for all age groups, including adults, teenagers, and parent-child groups, such as cultural travel, parent-child travel, domestic study tours, international study tours, and camp education.



Second Large-scale Cruise Ship Made in China to Be Delivered by the End of Next Year

The construction milestone plan for the second large-scale cruise ship made in China has been determined: it will dock for continuous outfitting starting in mid-April this year, float for the first time at the beginning of May 2025, leave the dock at the end of March 2026, start trial navigation in June 2026, and be named and delivered by the end of 2026.


Viking Cruises to Launch Four China Inbound Cruise Routes this Fall

Viking Cruises recently announced plans to launch four first-class China coastal routes targeting inbound tourists in the fall of 2024. The brand-new routes will be operated by the first Chinese-registered luxury ocean liner, "Zhao Merchant Yidon," marking this ship as the first Chinese-registered cruise ship to receive inbound tourists. The data shows that the four new inbound tourism routes in China are designed for 10 to 20 days and will travel to and from Beijing, passing through Shanghai along the southeastern coast of China to Shenzhen, and then visiting Chengdu, Lhasa, and Xi'an. It is reported that the itinerary along the southeastern coast of China will also visit small ports such as Pingtan, Fuzhou, and Dongtou, and some ports will receive international tourists for the first time.


This Year, the Number of Mainland Chinese Tourists Visiting Thailand Will Exceed 1.11 Million

According to the latest data released by the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports on February 27th, from January 1st to February 25th of this year, Thailand has received a total of 5,981,234 international tourists. Among them, the number of tourists from mainland China is 1,114,316, ranking first. It is followed by Malaysia with 759,828, Russia with 397,006, South Korea with 387,745, and India with 293,129.



Saudi Arabia's Tourism Industry Achieves 2030 Vision Goals Seven Years Ahead of Schedule With Over 100 Million Visitors Last Year

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Tourism recently announced that in 2023, the country received 27.5 million international tourists and 79.3 million domestic tourists, achieving the goal of receiving 100 million tourists seven years ahead of schedule in the "2030 Vision." The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Tourism pointed out that in 2023, the number of domestic tourists in Saudi Arabia increased by 2% year-on-year, and the number of international tourists increased by 65% year-on-year. According to UNWTO data, in 2023, the total consumption of domestic and foreign tourists in Saudi Arabia exceeded 250 billion riyals (67 billion US dollars), accounting for over 4% of Saudi Arabia's GDP and over 7% of non-oil GDP.

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