China partially resumes overseas group travel, not including Japan


China said on Friday it will resume group travel to 20 countries from Feb. 6 after reopening its borders and abandoning quarantine measures earlier this month in complete deviation from its strict “zero COVID” policy, but Japan was not among the destinations.

Beijing suspended foreign group travel in January 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19. The 20 countries are Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

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In addition to group travel, travelers can again book airline tickets and hotel packages. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism said the trial restart is “important for the recovery and development of the tourism industry”.

China said in late December that outbound tourism for Chinese citizens would resume “in an orderly manner” in line with the international situation regarding the pandemic.

Travelers check in at Beijing Capital International Airport on January 8, 2023. (TBEN)

When Beijing reopened its borders on January 8, a number of countries, including Japan and South Korea, tightened their border controls for travelers from China to prevent the spread of COVID-19, fearing widespread infections there.

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In response, Beijing stopped issuing visas to citizens of its two neighboring Asian countries, criticizing their entry restrictions on visitors from China as “discriminatory”.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday that many countries “give a warm welcome” to Chinese tourists and that many Chinese look forward to traveling abroad.

He said at a press conference that the government is reminding Chinese tourists to take extra care, monitor their health before departure and follow host countries’ COVID protocols to ensure they have a pleasant journey.

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