First signs of relaxation of Chinese travel restrictions

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

The Global Times, the more jingoistic of China’s two English-language daily newspapers, known for closely following the party line and government policies, ran an article on Feb. 23 with the headline World sees possible ‘tapering-off’ of COVID-19 as cases plummet, travel restrictions expected to relax as early as April: Chinese scientists and the subheading Travel restrictions to be eased as mass vaccinations in Northern Hemisphere expected in April.

In the article, it is said that:

“Several scientists believe that those positive signs point to a possible tapering-off of the global COVID-19 pandemic. They pointed out that implementation of stronger public health measures, stricter adherence to the rules borne out of fear of faster-spreading variants, and the natural seasonality of coronavirus have all played a constructive part in the recent decline.

A Beijing-based immunologist even predicted that global travel restrictions will start to be eased in April, if the positive trend continues in the Northern Hemisphere.

‘Based on the current pace, most wealthy countries and countries with frequent people exchanges will realize mass inoculation by April or May this year, and would pave the way for international travel,’ said the immunologist who spoke under the condition of anonymity.”

(Source for the whole article)

Obviously, there is no “condition of anonymity” in Chinese government media. The article can rather be seen as an early indication of the Chinese government’s reaction to the growing demand of Chinese outbound travellers to be allowed to resume international travel once vaccines and increased tests brought the CoViD-19 infection risk to manageable levels. “Bubbles” will probably be the first step taken to open up destinations considered safe to vaccinated and tested Chinese travellers. This will include not the least the more than 50 countries for which China is providing its own vaccines. Several of them, including Senegal, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Colombia, already got their first plane-loads of the coveted stuff.

Together with the EU vaccination passport, the UK announcement of an end of all restrictions by June, and the global number of persons dying from the results of the virus infection continuously falling, this seems to be a confirmation of our prediction that the light at the end of the tunnel will turn out to be a Chinese lampion.

ITB Berlin NOW will open its virtual gates in the coming week. COTRI will be available for meetings with COTRI Weekly readers to talk about ADVANTAGE: TOURISM and the way towards a sustainable re-start of the Chinese source market, just search for “Arlt” and start a chat.

You are also welcome to join our WTCF & COTRI session on Thu, Mar 11, 2021, 13:00 h (German time).

Please note that you have to register as (paying) participant of ITB Berlin NOW beforehand.

If you want to have rather the European taxpayers unwittingly signing the cheque for the cost of your networking with the Chinese market, try your luck if you are a European NTO or a well-connected service provider. In April a virtual travel trade show is organised by ETC, offering for National Tourism Organisations and 100 selected service providers free match-making and meetings with Chinese buyers.

The private European travel show companies organising travel fairs in China like Guangzhou International Tourism Fair, Shanghai World Tourism Fair, ITB China, etc. are obviously not amused: First they have no business for more than a year and now they have to compete with offers of free participation for European exhibitors in a taxpayer-paid event. If you want to apply, you have to hurry, however – the announcement of the event was made on Feb. 22nd, but the deadline for application is already tomorrow, March 3rd.

As always, best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI Weekly team!