China to see surge in cross-border travel during Dragon Boat Festival
Travelers at Beijing Capital International Airport, June 22, 2023. /CMG
Travelers at Beijing Capital International Airport, June 22, 2023. /CMG

Travelers at Beijing Capital International Airport, June 22, 2023. /CMG

As Dragon Boat Festival is underway, Chinese citizens are eagerly packing their bags and embarking on their travels. Alongside the expected surge in domestic travel, both inbound and outbound tourism are also anticipated to thrive during this three-day holiday period.

Based on a recent forecast by the National Immigration Administration (NIA), the daily peak of exits and entries at ports nationwide is projected to surpass 1.4 million, with an average of 1.28 million per day.

A peak in inbound and outbound passenger flows

Compared to the Dragon Boat Festival last year, this year is projected to see a growth in inbound and outbound passenger flows, approximated 2.2 times higher. It accounts for 63 percent of the passenger flows during the Dragon Boat Festival in 2019, prior to the pandemic, according to the NIA.

The numbers of inbound and outbound trips at the Beijing Capital International Airport, the Shanghai Pudong International Airport and the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport are expected to see a daily average of 28,000, 51,000 and 23,000, respectively.

For exit-entry passengers between Guangdong and Macao and Hong Kong, the ports of Gongbei, Luohu and Futian are expected to accommodate an average of 320,000, 178,000 and 152,000 daily trips, respectively, according to the NIA.

To enhance convenience for travelers, airports have introduced more fast lanes. These lanes allow passengers to use their identity cards at the first gate and proceed to the second gate for customs clearance, where relevant information such as face and fingerprint identification is checked.

"All 113 fast lanes at Beijing international airports are in operation. Each passenger takes about 20 seconds to pass through the fast lane," said Zhang Weitao, an officer at the exit-entry border inspection station at the Beijing Capital International Airport.

The number of open fast lanes will be adjusted at departure sites based on the passenger flow on-site, ensuring efficient processing of travelers, Zhang told China Media Group (CMG).

In May, China fully resumed quick customs clearance at ports and introduced optimization measures to facilitate the smooth exchange of Chinese and foreign travelers.

As part of these measures, a wide range of residents, including those with Chinese passports, exit-entry permits for travel to and from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, or permits for travel to and from Taiwan, are eligible to use fast lanes for expedited border inspection, as stated by the NIA.

A traveler in a fast lane at Beijing Capital International Airport, June 22, 2023. /CMG
A traveler in a fast lane at Beijing Capital International Airport, June 22, 2023. /CMG

A traveler in a fast lane at Beijing Capital International Airport, June 22, 2023. /CMG

Behind the travel buzz

Amid the current travel boom, the sentiment among people has shifted, as they now feel reassured and no longer harbor concerns about issues such as being unable to return, said Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy, the research division of the China National Tourism Administration.

Another factor contributing to the surge in travel is the increased convenience of customs clearance procedures. For instance, the speed of customs clearance for travelers moving between Hong Kong, Macao, and Chinese mainland has significantly improved compared to previous times, as highlighted by Dai in an interview with CMG.

Additionally, the tourism supply chain has also shown signs of recovery across various sectors, including aviation, cruise, and land passage, he noted.

Since the beginning of this year, there has been a steady recovery in both inbound and outbound passenger flows. To date, China has resumed outbound group tours for Chinese citizens to 60 countries.

The number of international flights to China has been consistently rising, and there will be a further increase in the number of flights during the upcoming summer vacation, said Wu Xi, Director-General of the Department of Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry during a press briefing Wednesday.

Currently, outbound tourism is undergoing a recovery process, said Dai, adding that while group tours have resumed for 60 countries, there is still an unmet demand for "multi-destination" and "multi-country" trip packages.

Dai said if flight availability does not reach pre-pandemic levels, air ticket prices will remain relatively high, which may impact people's willingness to travel and spend.

It also remains to be seen whether the quality of local dining, transportation and tour guides can regain the standards observed in 2019 when individuals travel abroad.

"As policy expectations stabilize and consumer confidence increase, the outbound tourism industry will gradually approach or even surpass the level of 2019," Dai said.

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