After three years of restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic, China will reopen its borders to foreign tourists this week. The authorities have declared victory over the virus and announced that they will issue all visas from Wednesday.
Despite the complete re-opening of China, tourism experts do not expect an influx of tourists, as was the rule in some other countries after the lifting of restrictions, nor do they expect major short-term effects on the Chinese economy, last but not least, international tourism before the covid-19 pandemic was only 0. 9 percent of GDP.
Still, the reissuing of visas marks Beijing’s efforts to normalize travel to China again. Areas of the country for which visas were not required before the covid-19 pandemic will be freely accessible even now, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced. Among these areas are the tourist-interesting island of Hainan, where Russians especially like to vacation, and visas are also not required for passengers on cruise ships that dock in the port of Shanghai.
Economic opportunities for foreigners, tourists are not expected
Similar to before the pandemic, even residents of Hong Kong and Macau who want to enter one of China’s most developed regions, Guangdong, where mainly businessmen like to stay overnight in prestigious hotels, will not need visas. “The reopening of China also has a positive impact on the Australian economy, as many business people will be able to visit their partners, customers and suppliers again, and it will also be easier to find new business opportunities,” he told Reuters Vaughn Barberthe representative of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in China.
Although the Chinese are hoping for a renewed visit by tourists, they will not be flocking to this Asian country, at least for now. Reuters reports that China does not have a good record with many Western democracies, and many question whether Chinese authorities have done enough in the past to contain the spread of the virus. “When it comes to tourism, China is no longer a hot destination,” an anonymous source told Reuters, adding: “Various event organizers also avoid China, mainly because everything is intertwined with politics.”