China's borders closed to tourist travel in 2019 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2022, the government lifted the mandatory quarantine for those visiting mainland China, resuming the previous visa-free policy and group tours. However, continued concerns about rising domestic cases have forced Chinese tourists to reconsider their travel preferences.
Among the most important reasons — flight restrictions, visa issues, and continued strict entry rules aimed exclusively at Chinese passport holders. If last year Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea were the best travel destinations for Chinese tourists, this year most tourists went to Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Bali.
Chinese citizens failed to obtain tourist visas to South Korea and Japan — both Asian states have stopped issuing visas due to the recent massive surge in COVID-19 cases in China.
Chinese travelers wishing to visit Europe are now having to wait much longer to obtain visas due to high demand. Before the pandemic, Schengen applications only took a few days to process, but now applicants have to wait up to two months to receive a stamp.
Currently, Thailand is the preferred destination for Chinese groups. The Maldives and Egypt are second and third in terms of popularity. Group tours are now also allowed from China to Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Laos, as well as to the UAE, South Africa, Hungary, Cuba and Russia. Meanwhile, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam continue to ban group travel from Chinese residents.