Art-loving Chinese tourists to boost global cultural exchanges
Published: Feb 07, 2023 10:01 PM
Illustration: Hang Dachuan/Global Times

Illustration: Hang Dachuan/Global Times

China's resumption of outbound group tourism to 20 countries, including Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia is not only a big step forward in its accelerated recovery from the epidemic, but also will contribute to the revival of global tourist and cultural industries.

On Monday morning, a rush of tour groups departed from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities on the very first day of the group tourism reopening. Some routes were so popular that it was hard to get reservations. For example, a 10-day, 40-person tour to New Zealand costing about 26,000 yuan ($3,830) per person sold out within one minute after going on sale Friday. In response to this fervor, major tourist agencies are providing a large variety of products such as group travel, independent travel, tailor-made travel, and visa applications.

This demonstrates China's outbound travel is moving toward a full recovery and that Chinese tourists have full confidence in the tourist industry. It will also help boost global tourism and cultural industries around the world. 

Among Chinese people's overseas travel interests, visiting museums was gradually becoming a hit in the years before the pandemic. In 2019, the popularity of museum-themed tours continued to rise, showing a year-on-year increase of 150 percent, according to The Beijing News. The Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Vatican Museums, the Museo del Prado in Madrid and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo were high on people's lists. Now that outbound tourism has restarted, big throngs of Chinese visitors will surely bring more vitality to global cities.

In addition, Chinese tourists also took a great interest in watching art performances. In 2019, the top 10 art shows among Chinese travelers included operas in Queen's Theatre in London, bullfights in Madrid, Flamenco dancing in Barcelona and the ballet Swan Lake in St. Petersburg. This revealed that many Chinese tourists favor "cultural tourism" over just traveling and shopping. 

According to reports, before the pandemic, China was the largest source of outbound tourists in the world. In 2019, China's overseas visits reached 155 million, ranking first in the world. It is projected that by the summer of 2023, Chinese overseas travel will recover to 50 percent of its pre-pandemic levels. The resumption of China's international group tours signifies the country's future full opening of its tourism industry. 

Since the restart of China's outbound tourism, many countries have been looking forward to the return of Chinese tourists. During the just concluded Chinese New Year in January 2023, Thailand welcomed the first batch of Chinese visitors with a red-carpet ceremony. According to a People's Daily report, 2023 marks China's Tourism Year in Thailand, and China is its major source of visitors.

Egypt, another country without special restrictions for Chinese tourists, predicts that the arrival of Chinese tourists will boost its tourist industry. Over in Montauban, southern France, red lanterns were used to decorate the city in anticipation of the coming of Chinese tourists. 

"We are very glad to welcome Chinese tourists and the red lanterns are a way for them to experience the Spring Festival," one local worker said.

Therefore, Chinese people's enthusiasm for museums, art performances and other cultural activities as well as the open arms of many countries toward them are sure to further propel the recovery of the global tourism industry and help promote cultural communications and understanding around the world.