Editorial: Is the light at the end of the tunnel the headlight of an oncoming train?

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Camping is one of the trends which have developed in China during the time of closed borders, which is lasting now for 28 months already. 30,000 companies are serving the industry, half of them were started only last year. The turnover of the camping industry quadrupled from 2014 to 2021 from 7.7 billion RMB (1.1 billion Euro) to 30 billion RMB (4.3 billion Euro). Of course, as this is China, hi-tech gadgets, the limited appeal of physical activities and hardship and the preference for group activities create a different form of camping in China compared to Western countries. Glamping is popular, with rather luxurious easy-to-set-up tents, build up together in camps rather than looking for the lonely place at the lakeside or in the forest. Caravaning with LVs is also on the rise, reflecting the new interest in activities closer to nature and more self-controlled. 

Such new trends will also be part of the changes in the needs and demands of Chinese outbound travellers once the borders reopen and will be discussed in the online GITF International Tourism Conference on May 19th

For the summer of 2022 however, visiting outdoor destinations may be restricted to camping grounds inside the residential province, as of crossing not only the national, but the provincial border might be forbidden as a result of the ongoing CoViD-19 pandemic in China. 

Last week the hopes were crushed that the Chinese government might finally start to react to the overwhelming evidence from practically all other countries in the world that a policy of “living with Omicron B.A.2” based on vaccination with mRNA vaccines given especially to vulnerable groups of senior citizens and chronically sick persons is the successful strategy to return to a level of “normality” in daily life and economic activities. 

According to China Daily, a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, presided over by Xi Jinping, on May 5th took place which issued a report stating that “China is certain to triumph in its battle against COVID-19, armed with its scientific, effective and time-tested policies on epidemic control.

As the pandemic continues and the virus keeps mutating, the meeting’s participants stressed that great uncertainties remain and it is far from the time to relax the efforts in battling the virus.

The meeting’s participants underlined the importance of fully and comprehensively understanding the guidelines and policies determined by the CPC Central Committee, saying that the dynamic zero-COVID approach must be firmly adhered to.

The meeting’s participants required Party committees and governments at all levels, as well as all sectors of society, to coordinate their thoughts and actions with the CPC Central Committee’s decisions and arrangements and remain highly consistent with the CPC Central Committee ideologically, politically and in terms of action.”

Interestingly, a paragraph from the statement after the meeting, which was still online on May 8th on several official Chinese websites, for instance on the website China Military (http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/view/2022-05/05/content_10152490.htm), disappeared from the China Daily article:


 “The meeting stressed the importance of unswervingly adhering to the dynamic zero-COVID policy and resolutely fighting any attempts to distort, question or dismiss China’s anti-COVID policy.”

The goods news among all the current global bad news may be the fact that finally China has increased the efforts to vaccinate the 60+ population and that probably many more Chinese have developed antibodies as result of an asymptomatic infection than officially registered. The fact that the official statistics show decreasing number of deaths in, and no fatalities at all outside of, Shanghai, but at the same time nationwide increasing number of cases in serious conditions, leave many observers in doubt if the daily reports of the National Health Commission are (still) reflecting the actual development.

Tourism is bouncing back around the world, with shortage of staff replacing pandemic restrictions as the main headache. Your humble editor dared to predict in a recent interview with AGBs Asia Editor Felix Ng the restart of China’s outbound tourism for the beginning of 2023, assuming that the XX. Party Congress brings the expected results in October and that the virus has run its course by that time. Admittingly, I have been too optimistic in the past with regard to the reopening date. However, I am still convinced that this light at the end of the tunnel is not the headlight of an oncoming locomotive. 

Therefore, do not forget to register for the GIFT International Tourism Conference on May 19th, discussing the future of China’s outbound tourism and how to keep in contact with the market in 2022. Participation is free of charge with the link:


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

COTRI Intelligence

COTRI Intelligence is the indispensable source of weekly consulting, analysis, data and news for everybody seriously interested in the post-pandemic Chinese outbound tourism market and changing Chinese consumer preferences.  COTRI Intelligence is published by COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute and edited by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS. Regional partners and Content partners [...]

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