In 1965, The Animals landed a hit with their song “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3mgapAcVdU), becoming later the unofficial anthem of GIs fighting in the Vietnam War. A modernised version in Putonghua translation would have a good chance to become popular in China today.
Several recently published studies show that the Chinese, especially those who in the past already had a taste of international travel, are very eager to leave the country they have been caged into for the last 21 months. Some of them might even consider leaving for good, as the high-speed re-maoisation of the society, the growing economic problems and the increasing international isolation of China may be considered as warning signals for worse to come.
In Imperial China, the sign for a “change of the Mandate of Heaven” (a “geming” 革命, a term originally from the Yi Jing, which in modern China was used to translate the word Revolution) was next to floodings and pandemics (tick!) the finding of the skeleton of a dragon. No such thing has been reported recently in China, but the fact that factories in Guangdong have to reduce production because electricity is in short supply thanks to the fixed energy sales price colliding with doubling production costs caused mostly by the political decision to decrease coal imports from Australia might be interpreted as a modern equivalent. Or, for those not interested in so much complexity, the picture of a dying dragon named Evergrande might do, a company build on the “Musical chairs” business model of selling below cost not-yet-build apartments to create collateral for an ever grander level of borrowing, which works as long as the music plays on.
The majority of Chinese travellers of course want to come back, but without having to go into two or three weeks of quarantine after doing so. This is illustrated by, among others, a study of DragonTrail, published last week.
According to the sentiment survey of Chinese travellers based on answers from August 2021, more than 70% plan to travel during the coming Golden Week domestically. More than 80% are happy to see online outbound travel information and dream about their first post-pandemic trip. Visiting off-the-beaten-track destinations and self-drive tours saw the highest increases on the wish-list for outbound activities when comparing the results of a similar survey in March with the current one.
50% will start to travel outbound again if there is no more quarantine requirement on return. If the destination has no or only a few cases of CoViD-19, the number climbs to 60%. Interestingly, women are more daring in this category with 66% seeing a low number of cases as a tipping point compared to only 55% of men.
The key insight, however, is this one: When official travel advice is in favour of outbound travel, more than three quarters of the more than 1,000 persons surveyed want to travel outbound again – a cork waiting to pop out of the bottle!
As always, all best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the entire COTRI WEEKLY team!