China's Inbound Tourism Is Giving Consumption a Shot in the Arm, UBS Says
Zhang Yushuo
DATE:  Jul 10 2024
/ SOURCE:  Yicai
China's Inbound Tourism Is Giving Consumption a Shot in the Arm, UBS Says China's Inbound Tourism Is Giving Consumption a Shot in the Arm, UBS Says

(Yicai) July 10 -- China's inbound tourism has rebounded thanks to the post-pandemic economic restart and the relaxation of some visa policies, boosting domestic consumption, according to the chief investment office of UBS Wealth Management.

The policy changes in China have begun attracting many foreign tourists, especially from Europe, the office told Yicai today. With the ongoing expansion of visa-free policies, inbound tourism figures will likely continue growing, it added.

Flight bookings from Europe to China surged 663 percent last year from the previous one and 29 percent from 2019, according to data from Chinese online travel agency Trip.Com. The United Kingdom and Germany ranked in the top 10 departure points, while Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen were the most popular destinations.

Since last year, China has introduced a unilateral 15-day visa-free policy for citizens of 15 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand, and Australia. It also signed 30-day mutual visa exemption policy agreements with Singapore and Thailand.

In addition, China's 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy applies to citizens of 54 countries, while the country also started issuing permits to non-Chinese permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macao to enter the Chinese mainland from today to ease cross-border travel.

China has also enhanced mobile payment services, allowing inbound travelers to use WeChat Pay and link their international bank cards.

Around 12 million foreigners entered China in the first five months this year, with more than 7 million enjoying the visa-free treatment, according to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Based on travel export revenue, inbound tourism in April reached 98 percent of the level in 2019, compared with just 46 percent last November.

"Behind the prosperous tourism market are the growth of residents' incomes, the emergence of innovative services, and the shift in consumer preferences towards emotional value and cultural experiences," Zurich-based UBS Wealth Management noted. "With China's economy moving towards high-quality development driven by consumption and services, we believe that the role of the tourism industry in boosting domestic demand will become increasingly prominent."

Editor: Martin Kadiev

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Keywords:   tourism,consumption,inbound tourists,visa-free policy,international flights,mobile payment,European countries