BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese outbound tourism numbers are set to jump by more than 25% this year from 2020 but remain “basically at a standstill” compared to pre-pandemic levels, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Monday, citing official projections.
The dramatic drop in travellers from China, the world’s most populous nation, since the rapid spread of coronavirus early last year, has left a $255 billion annual spending hole in the global tourism market.
A total of 25.62 million Chinese tourist trips overseas are expected to be made in 2021, CCTV said, citing an annual report on outbound tourism from the China Tourism Academy, part of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
That is up from 20.334 million in 2020, which was itself an 86.9% plunge from a year earlier as the coronavirus outbreak led to severe restrictions on global travel.
This year’s projection, which includes trips to special administrative regions of China such as the gambling hub of Macau, will still be well below annual numbers of over 100 million before the pandemic hit, CCTV noted.
Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has become a “bright spot” for outbound tourism from mainland China due to effective virus prevention and control measures, CCTV said.
The pace of recovery in 2022 will depend on how other destinations handle tourism, it added.
China’s National Immigration Administration said this month it would continue to guide citizens not to go abroad for non-urgent and non-essential reasons.
(Reporting by Beijing Newswroom; writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Bernadette Baum)