Foreign arrivals, departures during Qingming Festival holidays see 163.2% increase
Significant growth shows inbound tourism continues to rebound, signals great potential: analysts
Published: Apr 07, 2024 09:38 PM
Foreign tourists enjoy themselves at Tiantan in Beijing. Photo: VCG

Foreign tourists enjoy themselves at Tiantan in Beijing. Photo: VCG

China' s border ports saw 500,000 foreign passengers trips during the three-day Qingming Festival holidays, marking an increase of 163.2 percent compared to last year. Analysts pointed out that the significant growth signals the tourism market continues to rebound.

According to China's National Immigration Administration (NIA) on Sunday, a total of 5.189 million passenger trips were recorded crossing Chinese border ports during the Qingming Festival holidays, at an average of 1.73 million trips per day, an increase of 69.6 percent year-on-year.

Among them, residents from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan made 2.267 million passenger trips, an increase of 35.9 percent compared to the same period last year. In response to the influx of those residents returning to honor their ancestors, special inspection channels were established to facilitate their entry and exit during the holidays, the NIA said.

According to a report Chinese travel ticketing platform sent to the Global Times on Saturday, visitors from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions prefer to travel to the Chinese mainland via Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai ports in South China's Guangdong Province. The searches for travel to the three regions surged 78 percent during the just-ended holidays.

The administration also revealed that mainland residents made a total of 2.422 million cross-border passenger trips, representing an increase of 101.7 percent compared to the previous year, while the border ports across nation welcomed 500,000 foreign passengers during the holidays, representing a remarkable 163.2 percent growth over the same period last year.

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province and Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province are among popular destinations for foreign tourists during the three-day holidays, the report sent by revealed.

The surge in foreign arrivals is a clear indication of the ongoing rebound of China's inbound tourism market, highlighting its sustained growth potential, analysts said, who also noted that a range of policy initiatives aimed at facilitating the entry of foreigners have been instrumental in driving the rapid development of inbound tourism.

The Qingming Festival is not traditionally a peak time for foreign tourists, but during this year's holidays, foreign cruise tour groups have been entering the country one after another, reflecting the continuous rebound of the inbound tourism market, which is also a new trend in inbound tourism, Jiang Yiyi, a deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism at Beijing Sport University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The willingness of foreigners to visit China has increased, partly thanks to a series of streamlined measures including visa-free policies and easing of payment hurdles, Jiang said. 

On March 18, China's central bank issued an e-CNY (digital yuan) user guide, a move aimed at facilitating mobile payment for foreigners, Xinhua News Agency reported. 

According to a bilingual statement from the People's Bank of China (PBC), mobile phone users can search for "e-CNY" in the App Store or Google Play to download and install the digital yuan app, and the e-CNY wallet can be registered using mobile phone numbers from over 210 countries and regions.

China's leading payment platforms Alipay and Weixin Pay have also introduced a series of measures to improve payment services for foreign nationals, including the ability for foreign users to link international bank cards.

As part of efforts aimed at boosting inbound tourism and people-to-people exchanges, China extended its visa-free policy to six European countries starting from March 14 to November 30, 2024, which comes as China had already waived visa requirements for citizens from more countries, including those in Southeast Asia.

As related policies continue to produce effects, the country's inbound tourism market - whether in passenger trips and revenue generated - will outperform that recorded in 2019, Jiang told the Global Times.

Looking ahead, it's expected that the authorities will put forward more policies and measures to further boost the recovery of the inbound tourism sector, Zhou Weihong, a deputy general manager from Shanghai Spring Tours, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Overseas tourists who are not familiar with China mainly choose cities with more international flights and higher visibility, including Shanghai, as the first stop for their inbound tourism. According to media reports, the number of entry and exit trips at Shanghai ports reached 282,000 during the Qingming Festival holidays. Specifically, from Thursday to 6 pm on Saturday, the Hongqiao port saw 24,000 passenger trips, with half of them being inbound travelers.

Zhou said that in order to develop Shanghai as the first entrance for more foreign visitors, the city should step up efforts to further improve payment convenience, transition services and other detailed services.