Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tourism

Chinese Cite Financial Impact From Covid for Not Wanting to Travel Abroad

1 year ago

Chinese travelers cite financial constraints over the last three years as the leading reason for not wanting to travel abroad even as China decided to end its zero-Covid policy by easing travel restrictions, according to a report.

Chinese marketing solutions firm Dragon Trail International published a report on Thursday following a survey of more than 1,000 Chinese travelers between January 4 and 7 to gauge the consumer sentiment around outbound travel.

More than one-third of travelers said they would be staying at home because of time constraints, or because of the inconvenience of applying for a passport or visa.

China had stopped issuing passports at the start of the Covid pandemic in early 2020. Following the easing of restrictions, the administration had said it would start taking passport applications from January 8.

Even as more than 60 percent of survey respondents said they wanted to travel outside of mainland China this year, travel spending will be somewhat constrained for many in the aftermath of Covid.

Around 45 percent of those surveyed said they would keep travel budgets within $3,000.

In 2019, Chinese tourists took 150 million trips overseas per year while spending $255 billion.

Of those who plan to travel overseas, 71 percent said they would do so for 5-10 days – a point to consider when creating travel products for the Chinese market in 2023.

Another interesting insight that the survey highlights is the increasing relevance of social media platform Xiaohongshu, more popularly known as the Chinese version of Instagram, not just for travel inspiration, but also for planning.

Skift Megatrends 2023 has also highlighted how short-form video content has become such a dominant format, particularly for destination storytelling.

Recovery of outbound travel in China is expected to pick up in the second half of the year with July witnessing a strong comeback.

The survey expects a bumper 8-day Golden Week holiday from September 29-Octover 6 for mid-autumn festival and China’s National Day.

However, Chinese travelers will be travelling closer home as the most popular outbound destinations in 2023 are all in Asia with Hong Kong leading the way, while Thailand is by far the most popular foreign country.

Hotels

Macau Casino Companies Pledge Over $13 Billion Investment on Non-Gaming Activities

1 year ago

Six casino companies have agreed to invest a total of $15 billion in Macau over ten years, with more than 90 percent of the money pledged to non-gaming activities.

In line with the easing of Covid quarantine rules for inbound arrivals, Macau has renewed the casino licenses of six companies — MGM China, Galaxy Entertainment, Sands China, Melco Resorts, Wynn Macau and SJM Holdings — for the next 10 years.

Genting Group lost the bid even as reports earlier had stated that the Malaysian goup was a strong contender for a new license promising the biggest shakeup in Macau in over two decades.

As the new contracts come into effect on January 1, the casino firms have promised to spend almost $13.5 billion on “exploring overseas customer markets and developing non-gaming projects,” the government said.

The investment on gaming projects would only be around $1.2 billion.  

Macau has been looking to diversify its tourism offerings for some time, looking to position itself as not just a hub for the gaming industry.

In recent years, almost 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product has come from the gaming sector.

However, the casino closures as a result of China’s zero-Covid policy dealt a blow to operators who had been losing millions of dollars a month since March 2020.

Doing away with its institutional quarantine, Macau announced last week that inbound arrivals would have to quarantine at home for five days while restricting outbound travel movements for another three days.

Earlier, travelers had to institutionally quarantine for five days in addition to three days of home quarantine.

Tourism

Hong Kong Finally Removes Restrictions on Inbound Arrivals Who Test Negative

1 year ago

After a whole lot of “will they, won’t they,” Hong Kong has finally announced that visitors to the destination would no longer be subject to home monitoring for three days.

Inbound travelers testing negative upon arrival would be allowed to move freely around the city from Wednesday onwards.

The city state has finally ended its much-criticised “0+3” policy where even passengers testing negative are issued an amber code on the LeaveHomeSafe health app and are not allowed to enter restaurants, gyms and beauty parlours during the first three days.

People would also no longer be required to scan QR codes using the health app while entering venues around the city. 

“Any measures that we introduce to deal with Covid is based on actual figures, data and risk assessment,” Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Tuesday.

Cheering the news that comes as relief for all the restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms and offices around Hong Kong, Girish Jhunjhunwala, founder and chief executive of Ovolo Hotels mentioned on social media, “The announcement serves as a definitive step towards the recovery of the local hospitality and tourism industry, and therefore, Hong Kong’s economy entirely.” 

However, arrivals would still need to take a polymerase chain reaction test at the airport and on their third day in the city, and a rapid antigen test for five days.

Last week, while cutting the period for inbound arrivals to take daily rapid antigen tests from seven days to five days, Hong Kong authorities had announced that the outdoor mask mandate and other anti-epidemic measures would continue till December 28.

While the goal is to allow normal cross-border travel as soon as possible, Lee Ka-chiu said that Hong Kong would be clooking at data and the risks involved to decide on its next move.

Airlines

Cathay Pacific Appoints Customer Chief Ronald Lam as New CEO

1 year ago

Cathay Pacific announced on Wednesday that CEO Augustus Tan would be stepping down on December 31 and chief customer and commercial officer, Ronald Lam would succeed him.

Even after appointed the CEO of Catahay Pacific, the airline has said Lam would continue to serve as chair of HK Express, Cathay’s low-cost subsidiary.

Lam was appointed chief customer and commercial officer in 2019. He joined the Cathay Pacific Group as a management trainee in 1996 and has since held a number of senior leadership roles in Hong Kong and overseas, including CEO of HK Express.

As the airline looks to increase its passenger flight capacity and strengthen connectivity, Lam would lead the airline through its post-Covid recovery and the introduction of the three-runway system at Hong Kong International Airport, Patrick Healy, chair of Cathay Pacific Group, said in a press statement.

“The company’s dual-brand strategy comprising Cathay Pacific as a premium full-service airline and HK Express as a wholly owned low-cost carrier have positioned it well to take advantage of the recovery and continue contributing to the long-term success of the Hong Kong hub,” Healy said.

Healy also spoke of Tang’s critical role in the airline’s restructuring in 2020 and its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic

Releasing its September figures, the airline has said that it would continue to add more flights in the coming months.

In addition to the flight sectors previously scheduled for November and December, the airline had announced that it would be adding more than half a million seats with an increase of around 700 sectors in November and 1,200 in December.

Japan and London Heathrow sectors would be witnessing a substantial increase in passenger flights in November and December, the airline had said.

In another board reshuffle announced Wednesday, Lavinia Lau will replace Lam as the chief customer and commercial officer from January 1 and Alexander McGowan will replace Gregory Hughes as chief operations and service delivery officer, effective April 1.

Tourism

Taiwan to End Quarantine for Inbound Arrivals From October 13

1 year ago

In the latest round of easing travel restrictions, tourists coming in to Taiwan will not be asked to undergo mandatory Covid-19 quarantine from October 13, the ministry of health and welfare announced on Thursday.

From October 13, inbound arrivals to Taiwan would require to self-monitor for seven days instead of undergoing mandatory quarantine.

While the government has scrapped the requirement for polymerase chain reaction tests for inbound travelers, passengers aged two and above would receive four rapid test kits on arrival and are advised to test on the day of arrival or the next day.

Travelers seeking to step out during the seven-day self-monitoring period would be required to take a rapid antigen test.

While opening borders to travelers from all countries, the government has also raised the weekly limit for international visitors from 60,000 to 150,000, and announced the resumption of group tours.

On September 12, Taiwan restored visa-free entry for visitors from 54 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and diplomatic allies. From Thursday onwards, 11 more countries were included in the visa exemption list, which includes Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Following last week’s announcement of the Mainland Affairs Council, entry requirements for select categories of Chinese, Hong Kong, and Macau nationals have also been relaxed from Thursday onwards.

Even as many Asian destinations have scrapped most of the Covid-19 related entry restrictions, Taiwan had resorted to a strong zero-Covid policy for more than two years, where arrivals were still required to undergo a mandatory three-day quarantine at home or at a hotel, followed by four days of self-monitoring.

Taiwan had also banned inbound and outbound tour groups for more than two years.

Tourism

Hong Kong Finally Looks to Scrap Hotel Quarantine Policy

1 year ago

As Hong Kong leaders acknowledge how stringent Covid policies have hammered the destination’s competitiveness, the government might soon be on its way to scrap the controversial hotel quarantine policy for inbound travelers.

On Tuesday, Chief Executive John Lee said an announcement was impending and the destination would look to allow more activities in an orderly manner.

“I’m conscious of the need to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness by ensuring that we have a good connectivity,” Lee said at a press briefing on Tuesday. “We will be announcing the measures once we’ve made the decision about what we’re going to do.”

While doing its best to control Covid-19, Lee said, the Hong Kong government would aim to have maximum connection with the international world and reduce inconvenience for inbound arrivals.

The country’s strict Covid rules have led to the cancellation of international events like the Hong Kong Marathon and the dragon boat race that moved to Thailand.

Noting that the convenience of cross-border travel is the core of restoring economic momentum, Paul Chan, the financial secretary of Hong Kong, also admitted that the current restrictions may discourage people from coming to Hong Kong.

The city is currently reporting around 6100 cases a day. 

Hong Kong is one of the last few destinations that still follows a stringent Covid policy for inbound arrivals requiring them to quarantine in a hotel for three days followed by four days of self-monitoring. Inbound arrivals are also required to carry a negative result proof of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken 48 hours before boarding.

Having assumed office since July 1, Lee has been working to ease the city’s isolation, reconnecting Hong Kong with the rest of the world.

Immediately after taking charge, Lee ended a controversial rule that banned individual flights if they brought in passengers infected with the coronavirus. In August, he shortened the Covid-19 hotel quarantine period for all arrivals to three days from seven.

Two weeks ago, the Hong Kong government also lifted rules requiring passenger crew to quarantine in a hotel for three days on return to the city.

Tourism

China Vows to Relax International Travel Curbs

2 years ago

In a marked change of sentiment, China has vowed to strengthen efforts to open international travel, by resuming and increasing passenger flights in an orderly way and by steadily improving visa and Covid testing policies.

China will make Covid control measures more targeted and well-calibrated under the premise of ensuring safety against Covid infections, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said. This is the first time an official from the top Chinese leadership has commented on relaxation of international travel.

He said the country would also look to facilitate cross-border travel for labor services in a prudent and orderly manner. “All international students may return to China to continue their studies should they wish so,” Keqiang added.

According to China’s education ministry, until the end of 2018, at least 492,185 international students from 196 countries and regions were studying in China. International students have repeatedly petitioned the Chinese government to lift the nearly two-year ban on their return. From June onwards, China has been gradually allowing students from some Asian nations to return.

Amid anger over the fallout from China’s commitment to zero-Covid policy, Keqiang, a trained economist, had recently urged local government officials to immediately take action to stabilise the situation.

Promoting stable growth of the world economy is a common and urgent task for all, the Chinese premier said while speaking at the World Economic Forum’s special virtual dialogue.

On the state of the Chinese economy, he noted that in the second quarter this year, under the impacts from a new round of Covid flare-ups and other factors beyond expectation, downward economic pressure rose steeply, and major indicators tumbled in April. In May, the decline in major economic indicators slowed. In June, the economy stabilized and rebounded.

“That said, we are keenly aware that recovery of the economy is not yet firmly established, and painstaking efforts are required to keep overall economic performance stable,” he added.

Highlighting China’s development potential, he said, the country would effectively coordinate Covid-19 response and economic and social development.

“We will continue to take development as the basis of and key to overcoming all challenges China faces, and work hard to bring the economy back to a normal track as soon as possible,” he added.