More and more countries and regions have rolled out preferential measures to tap into the recovering Chinese outbound tourism market, with the latest being the African nation of Tunisia, which has decided to implement a visa-free policy for Chinese tourists.
Visa-free policy will apply to Chinese individuals or groups traveling to Tunisia directly from China or from other places. Chinese tourists will be required to arrange hotel reservations and air tickets before entering the country, the Chinese Embassy in Tunisia said on Saturday.
Tourism plays a crucial role in the African country's economy, and Tunisian officials have previously stated that the Chinese market has great potential for Tunisia's tourism industry, hoping to attract more Chinese tourists, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.
As China's domestic tourism industry rapidly rebounds, the just-concluded National Day holidays, as well as upcoming holidays and festivals such as New Year's Day and Spring Festival, have become crucial opportunities for foreign tourist sectors to attract Chinese visitors.
Besides Tunisia, a number of countries and regions have recently rolled out similar entry policies for Chinese tourists, including Thailand, Kiribati and Georgia, according to media reports.
During China's eight-day Golden Week, which began on September 29, comprising the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays, overall inbound and outbound trips reached 11.82 million, recovering to 85.1 percent of the level in 2019, according to data from China's National Immigration Administration.
Outbound bookings made through tourism platform Trip.com during the Golden Week surged more than eight times year-on-year. From the perspective of air tickets, the post-1990s group was still the "main force" of outbound travelers, per data the platform sent to the Global Times.
Beijing resident Cindy Zhang is one of the post-1990s. She and her husband flew to the Maldives for their honeymoon, and it was the first time for her to travel abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Before the pandemic, I traveled abroad once a year for four consecutive years. I plan to resume that frequency and keep exploring the world," Zhang told the Global Times on Sunday.
"Outbound tourism has been recovering within expectations, with the most popular destinations being Singapore, Dubai and some tropical island countries," Jia Jianqiang, CEO of Beijing-based online agency 6renyou, told the Global Times.
While there is still a gap in the current business compared with pre-pandemic levels, a continued recovery is expected, Jia said.
China has been the world's top outbound tourism market since 2013. In addition to their significant numbers, Chinese tourists are known for their robust spending power. This is why many countries and regions, particularly those with a significant stake in the tourism industry, place a high emphasis on attracting Chinese tourists, Jiang Yiyi, a deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism at Beijing Sport University, told the Global Times.
Amid the ongoing gradual recovery of the global tourism industry, attracting more Chinese tourists is very important for the employment, economy and related industry chains of many tourist destinations, Jiang said.
Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists made about 150 million outbound trips annually, and the market still holds immense potential to boost the global tourism recovery, Jiang noted.