China to expand outbound group travel to more countries

China on Friday unveiled a second list of 40 destinations to which travel agencies and online tourism services providers can offer group tours from March 15.

The destinations include France, Greece, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Brazil, according to a circular released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Relevant airline ticketing and hotel booking services will also resume, the circular said.

Searches for outbound travel jumped 77 percent after the news and the number of tourist visa inquiries to related countries also spiked by more than four times, The Paper reported, citing data from online travel platform Tongcheng Travel. 

Countries such as Vietnam, Italy, Serbia, France, and Spain were the most popular destinations, it said.

China's outbound group travel market was halted in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the country optimized its pandemic response, it rolled out a pilot program to resume outbound travel to the first group of 20 countries from February 6 this year.

The move to expand the number of destinations comes as China's overseas tourism industry shows signs of a firm trajectory of quick recovery in the past month, as more countries pin hopes on the return of Chinese tourists to boost economic rebound.

(With input from Xinhua; Cover via CFP)

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