The Culture and Tourism Ministry in China has announced lifting of Covid-19 ban on group tours to several destinations spread across Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa and North America.
Among the list of top travel countries in Asia-Pacific include Japan, South Korea and Australia. The European countries include the UK, Germany, Finland and Sweden. The Middle East destinations include Qatar, Oman, Lebanon and Israel.
China had banned group tours since January 2020 at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, reported The Japan Times.
As part of the stringent zero-Covid strategy, the government implemented visa suspensions and lengthy quarantines to curb the spread of new virus variants into the country.
In December 2022, China announced that travellers to the country are not required to quarantine from 8 January 2023. However, it kept visa restrictions on them in place, reported VOA.
The resumption of group tours is expected to boost global tourism, as per the statement of the ministry. This move applies to all travel agencies and online platforms in China, reported Bloomberg.
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The global tourism industry has been tepid due to a slow rebound in flight capacity to and from the Asian powerhouse, which is considered one of the largest sources of tourists prior to Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, China was a leading outbound tourism market in the world.
Under a trial programme in February 2023, the domestic tour groups had gained permission to visit the first batch of 20 countries. In March, the outbound group tours were allowed to another 40 countries, reported GlobalTimes.
Beijing has now expanded this list to more than 70 countries, reported CNBC.