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Tourism operators still upbeat amid new infections

Cheng Si
Updated: Aug 05,2021 07:05    China Daily

Tourism operators remain optimistic about the long-term prospects of the domestic industry, despite the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

In the first six months of the year, the tourism market showed stable recovery, with total domestic trips growing just over 100 percent year-on-year to more than 1.87 billion.

The figure was released in late July by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, who said that the domestic trips were roughly 61 percent of those taken in 2019 before the first COVID-19 outbreak.

The situation in the tourism sector changed in late July after Zhengzhou in Henan province was hit by torrential rains and floods, and Jiangsu and Hunan provinces reported COVID-19 outbreaks, said Wang Mojie, an employee at an online travel agency in Shanghai.

"All these natural disasters and new cases have hit the industry hard," Wang said. "But thanks to the lessons we learned from the epidemic last year, we soon made new plans, for example, focusing on short-distance tours within a province, to reduce losses.

"We had very positive expectations for the tourism market during the summer vacation because the market has performed well in the first half year," Wang said.

The outbreak cast a shadow over the tourism market during all of 2020, he said. However, operators were prepared for a comeback this year and had improved tour services in a bid to stimulate the market.

Wang said despite sporadic cases of COVID-19 found in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in May and June when the summer vacation began, the tourism market hadn't been greatly affected. "Travelers at the time still showed very strong interest in going out," he said.

"We've also developed some culture-related campaigns, such as online sightseeing, to help the company get through the hard times. The industry players, including operators at scenic spots, hotels and travel agencies, have made great sacrifices so far to ensure travelers' safety."

Tuniu, an online travel agency, said its July bookings in Beijing-a peak time for summer vacations-have fallen by 10 to 20 percent since the city reported confirmed COVID-19 cases on July 28.

All travel agencies have suspended services to areas with medium or high risk of infection, as required by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

Chen Luling, who canceled on Aug 2 her trip to Sanya, Hainan province, due to tightened epidemic control and prevention measures, said once the restrictions are relaxed she will make the trip with her family.

"We got over the crisis in 2020, so why not believe the government has the methods to get through the current hardships? I have confidence in them and so do my family members," she said.

A recent report by the World Tourism Alliance shows that the average prosperity index for China's tourism operations in the second half of the year is-30. While it is negative, it is the highest since the epidemic broke out.

The index is calculated based on 502 questionnaires collected before July 6. The index ranges from-150, very pessimistic, to+150, very optimistic.

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