Skift Take

The Chinese travelers have changed and destinations that want them to visit, need to pay attention to what they want and how they can cater to them.

The outbound travel recovery in China is stuck at just over half of 2019 levels, but there’s at least one promising sign of future demand: Domestic tourism is 90% above 2019 levels.

Outbound travel has been held back by flight capacity and visa hurdles. Once those issues are resolved, domestic travelers will be looking to head out of the country again, said Boon Sian Chai, managing director and vice president of international markets for, while speaking at the second Skift Global Forum East in Dubai.

Other good signs: According to, Golden Week outbound travel volume was up 800% compared to the same period in 2022, and hotel and air reservations have recovered to 80% of the same period in 2019.

And there’s progress on the issues. “China has also streamlined its visa application process by reducing paperwork and simplifying the requirements,” Chai said.

Chai acknowledged that destinations with simplified entry procedures hold a distinct advantage. He underscored the significance of tailored services provided by hotels and destinations, such as Chinese language support and digital payment options, to cater to the preferences of these travelers.

Discussing payment preferences, he pointed out that every Chinese individual exclusively carries a phone with a wallet, eliminating the need for credit cards or cash.

“We work closely with the Saudi tourism board and Dubai Tourism Council. Over the next few weeks leading up to the first quarter, we plan to initiate a series of campaigns with Saudi tourism to attract inbound Chinese customers to Saudi Arabia,” Chai stated.

Highlighting the relaxed entry rules in the region, Chai noted the favorable accessibility to e-visas or on-the-ground visas in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

“In our Golden Week travels, the top destinations include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and even Japan — locations with simplified entry norms for Chinese travelers. The leading European destination is the UK, once again owing to the ease of travel,” he explained.

Skift Global Forum East in Dubai:

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Tags: asia monthly, china outbound, coronavirus recovery, sgfe2023, group, visa waiver

Photo credit: Boon Sian Chai, managing director and vice president of international markets for at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai. Skift

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