Update: Canada, UK drop mandatory COVID test requirements for Chinese visitors
Published: Mar 17, 2023 09:10 PM
The Air Canada check-in counter at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on January 18, 2023 Photo: VCG

The Air Canada check-in counter at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on January 18, 2023 Photo: VCG

Air travelers from China to Canada will no longer be required to provide proof of COVID test results before boarding, starting from Friday, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced, marking the latest move by a foreign country to relax restrictions for Chinese travelers.

On January 5, the temporary pre-departure test requirements for air travelers entering Canada from China were put in place.

"We are encouraged that the epidemiological situation has improved in both China and Canada, and that temporary test requirements for air travelers put in place in early 2023 can now be lifted," Omar Alghabra, Canada's minister of transport, said in the statement.

Later in the day, the UK government announced that its Health Security Agency's voluntary, on-arrival testing program for travelers arriving from China at London's Heathrow airport is set to end, starting from Friday.

In addition, from April 5, people flying from the Chinese mainland to England will no longer require proof of a negative pre-departure test result, the UK government said.

Previously, multiple countries including the US and Australia have dropped the COVID-19 screening requirements in a bid to attract more Chinese travelers.

The relaxation came after China's downgraded epidemic response after winning a decisive victory over the virus following large-scale outbreaks of the epidemic nationwide in December and January.

China's government has also ramped up efforts to facilitate outbound travel, with outbound group tours starting for another 40 countries including Nepal, Vietnam, Iran, France, Spain and Italy, from Wednesday.

This was the second group of destinations in China's pilot program for outbound group tours, after the country resumed cross-border group tours to an initial 20 countries and regions on February 6.

At present, the number of pilot destination countries for outbound and group tours has expanded to 60, and among them, 30 countries have opened direct flights, travel agency told the Global Times on Friday. Outbound tourism has picked up again, the agency said.

In terms of rates, air tickets to Southeast Asian destinations such as Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam are relatively cheap, while flights to European countries are more expensive.

With more international travel now possible, the tourism potential is expected to be greatly unleashed. On February 20, the China Tourism Academy released the "Blue Book of China's Tourism Economy," predicting that the number of inbound and outbound trips for the whole year is expected to exceed 90 million, doubling year-on-year and recovering to 31.5 percent of the pre-epidemic level.

Global Times