Chinese Tourists Won’t Be Back Anytime Soon

Markets went dark on Jeju Island in South Korea. Bored peddlers await customers who never show up in Bangkok. Tour guides were laid off in Bali. Long queues of people with selfie sticks and sun hats in Paris and Rome are a distant memory.

This was supposed to be year travel is back. Many countries in Europe and Asia reopened airports and hosted tourists. But they face a new reality: Variants, for example Omicron why is this happening global panicis prompting governments to close borders again, and the biggest spenders – Chinese tourists – won’t be back anytime soon.

as part of an effort to maintain zero-Covid China has announced that international flights will be kept at 2.2 percent of pre-Covid levels during the winter months. It has almost completely stopped issuing new passports since August and has implemented a 14-day quarantine for all arrivals. return to china it also requires a lot of paperwork and multiple Covid-19 tests.

A lot of people there are just not to move.

No country in the last decade has been more important to global travel than China. Chinese tourists spent nearly $260 billion in 2019, surpassing all other nations. Their prolonged absence means that travel revenues are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels any time soon. Analysts say it could take up to two years for China to fully reopen.

Shopping centers are empty. Restaurants are closed. Hotels are deserted.

The crisis particularly affects North and Southeast Asia. According to Nihat Ercan, head of Asia Pacific investment sales at hospitality industry consultant JLL Hotels & Hospitality, China is the #1 tourism source in Asia for several major cities.

latest discovery Omicron mobilized the countries reapply travel restrictions or bar passengers completely. Yet another blow to an industry winding Due to the lack of Chinese tourists start to heal.

Things have come to a standstill in Bangkok’s Or Tor Kor fruit market, where Chinese tourists once gathered around tables to eat durian. Durian seller Phakamon Thadawatthanachok says he keeps 300 to 400 kilograms of prickly fruit in stock and needs to resupply them three to four times a week to keep up with demand. Now, he only had to borrow money to make a living.

“Loss of income, immeasurable,” he said. “At the moment we only have hope that it will get better one day.”

According to the government, the pandemic in Vietnam has caused more than 95 percent of tourism businesses to close or suspend their operations.

Before the pandemic, Chinese visitors flocked to the coastal towns of Da Nang and Nha Trang, which accounted for about 32 percent of the total number of foreign tourists visiting the country.

“The service industry in this city is dead,” said Truong Thiet Vu, director of a now-closed travel company in Nha Trang.

On the Indonesian island of Bali, many tourism agencies have sold their vehicles or confiscated rental companies, according to Franky Budidarman, owner of one of the two major travel agencies on the island serving Chinese tourists.

Mr. Budidarman said office workers should cut their salaries in half and started running a food delivery service and a cafe. “I am grateful to have survived for two years,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder how I could do that.”

The loss was particularly large for destinations serving Chinese tourists traveling in group packages. On Jeju Island, popular with Chinese visitors for visa-free entry, tourist arrivals from China fell from more than 1 million in 2019 to 103,000 in 2020, down more than 90 percent. From January to September this year, that number is only about 5,000.

According to Jeju Tourism Association spokesperson Hong Sukkyoun, half of the duty-free shops serving Chinese tourists in Jeju have closed. An Younghoon, 33, who was among the unemployed in July, said all but three of the 12 employees at the Big Market Mall, which used to sell island specialties such as chocolate and crafts, were laid off.

“We all started counting down our days when the virus started to spread,” he said. “We knew there wouldn’t be a job anytime soon.”

Chinese visitors are less common in Europe, but they have emerged as an increasingly important market in recent years. The director of the museum, Paul Leharne, said that, for example, the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London is visited by about 1,000 people a day, and at least half of them are from China.

Since reopening on May 17, the museum has only been able to attract 10 percent of its usual number. This year, he said, he opened an online store to sell goods and souvenirs, about a third of which are shipped to China.

“We really feel their absence,” said Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum in Rome, referring to Chinese tourists.

According to Ms. Russo, about 40 percent of international visitors to the Colosseum in 2019 were Asian tourists “mainly from China”. That year, the site had adjusted its panels and guides to include Chinese along with English and Italian.

According to statistics published in June by the national tourism agency ENIT, the number of international tourists to Italy is down 55 percent, compared to a 48 percent drop across Europe. Two million Chinese tourists visited Italy in 2019.

Fausto Palombelli, head of tourism at Unindustria, a business association in the Lazio region that includes Rome, said their disappearance had dealt a “devastating blow” to some businesses investing in this particular group.

Like many other places, Rome had taken steps to cater to visitors from China. He taught taxi drivers to thank their Chinese customers with a “xie xie,” or thank you in Mandarin. According to Raffaele Pasquini, head of marketing and business development at Aeroporti di Roma, who manages Fiumicino, the main airport, Fiumicino, was offering a personal shopping service with no value-added tax to attract Chinese travelers.

Some in France are trying to connect with potential customers, knowing that it can take months, possibly years, for Chinese tourists to return.

Catherine Oden, who works for Atout France, the national institute responsible for promoting France as a tourism destination, said she needs to be familiar with Chinese social media platforms like Weibo and Douyin to live stream virtual events like French cooking classes and tours. Château de Chantilly’s photo.

“We want to be on their minds,” he said. “So they choose France as their first destination when things get back to normal.”

Long queues of Chinese tourists circling the boutiques on the Champs-Élysées in Paris used to be a common sight. “Before the pandemic, we had four Chinese-speaking salespeople,” said Khaled Yesli, 28, retail manager of a luxury boutique on the Champs-Élysées. “There is only one left and we have no intention of buying more.”

Mr. Yesli said the store’s best-selling item was once a red and gold metal box containing macarons and hand creams specially designed for Chinese tourists. But due to sluggish sales during the pandemic, these boxes are now on the bottom shelf.

John Yoon, Dera Menra Sijabat, Vo Kieu Bao Uyen, Isabella Kwai and Amy ChangChien contributing reporting.

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