Searches for outbound flights, overseas hotels jump to three-year peak in China

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Hong Kong, Dec 27 (IANS) China’s partial reopening has been met with an outpouring of joy and relief from citizens — both the hundreds of millions isolated inside the country for the past three years and those overseas separated from their loved ones, according to a media report.

Authorities announced on Monday that starting January 8, China will drop quarantine requirements for all international arrivals, its most significant move yet in transitioning away from its stringent zero-Covid policy, CNN reported.

The border remains largely closed to foreigners, apart from a limited number of business or family visits — though the government signaled Monday this could loosen, too, CNN reported.

For many Chinese nationals abroad, who have been unable to return or unwilling to endure the lengthy quarantine, the news meant they could finally go home — a bittersweet victory after much sacrifice.

Those within China are also celebrating and anticipating outbound travel. Most have not left the country for several years and are now flooding booking sites to plan long-awaited vacations, CNN reported.

Online searches for outbound flights and overseas hotels jumped to a three-year peak on Trip.com, a Chinese travel booking website, according to company data. Searches for popular destinations increased tenfold within half an hour of the announcement, with many people searching for outbound group tours during the Lunar New Year holiday season in late January, data shows.

Macao, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom were among the website’s top 10 destinations with the fastest growth in search volume since the announcement, CNN reported.

But the border relaxations have sparked concern among some as China fights its most severe wave of Covid infections since the pandemic began.

–IANS

san/arm

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