How the 3-year fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has affected China’s tourism industry

Как 3-летняя борьба с пандемией COVID-19 повлияла на туристическую отрасль Китая

Our article today on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Chinese tourism industry was prepared by a specialist in visas to China from Uway, which specializes in visa processing and immigration.

The article is devoted to how China coped with the coronavirus pandemic, and how this event affected the economy and life of the country, especially in the field of tourism.


How did the coronavirus outbreak lead to the closure of China in 2020 and a worldwide pandemic?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the first outbreak of the then-unexplored SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected in China in Wuhan at the end of December 2019.

There are several versions of where the new coronavirus infection originates from. The most likely source of human infection is considered to be mammals (most likely bats), which were sold at the Huanan Animal and Seafood Market in Wuhan.

There are also several more common versions: one suggests that the first outbreak of the disease did not occur in China, but in European countries back in the fall of 2019. And the second is that the coronavirus leak came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which in 2015 published the results of research on the development of hybrid viruses using coronavirus.

Questions about how the virus was transmitted to the first patient, and whether it has a laboratory origin, are still open, but the undeniable fact remains that on March 11, 2020, the epidemic in China turned into a pandemic, as the virus began to spread rapidly around the world.

Chronology of the closure of the country

Как 3-летняя борьба с пандемией COVID-19 повлияла на туристическую отрасль Китая

In the spring of 2020, the border countries of the People’s Republic of China gradually closed their borders in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus infection. According to the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, on March 28, 2020, the Chinese authorities banned entry into the country with valid visas and residence permits.

The last Manchuria — Zabaikalsk border crossing, through which passenger traffic between China and our country was carried out, was closed on April 9, 2020, while cargo traffic was not stopped.

After that, China was closed to foreign citizens for several years, including Russians, because. The Chinese government acted within the framework of a policy of “zero tolerance for COVID-19”: lockdowns of houses, streets, cities, complete isolation from the outside world of all those who came into contact with the patient, as well as regular screening of the population for the presence of coronavirus.


Conditions for obtaining visas and entry to China in 2021-2022

In 2021, China was closed to Russians and citizens of other countries due to the “zero tolerance” policy.

After the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and Zhangjiakou were held in February 2022, many assumed that entry to the country could be opened this year, but, unfortunately, quite a lot of people became infected after the competition, which led to a lockdown in Shanghai in March of the same year.

Nevertheless, as early as May 2022, China allowed entry into the country for the purpose of fulfilling a diplomatic mission, business, family reunification, humanitarian purposes, as well as those who wanted to return home on the basis of citizenship or residence permit of the People’s Republic of China. Since May 1, entry to Hong Kong has been opened for tourists from Russia and other countries.

To enter the country, it was necessary to be vaccinated against covid and receive a vaccination certificate, pass several PCR tests and observe quarantine for a period of 7 to 14 days upon arrival.

In the fall of 2022, the Chinese government decided to expand the list of those who can visit the country: students with residence permits and APEC plastic card holders were added. The quarantine was lifted at the entrance to Hong Kong.

At that time, covid restrictions were still in place in China, many cities remained closed, and businesses did not work, which negatively affected the country’s economy.

Why wasn’t China opened to tourists in 2022, when most countries lifted covid restrictions?

Как 3-летняя борьба с пандемией COVID-19 повлияла на туристическую отрасль Китая


The fact is that the Chinese government has decided to rely on the suppression of coronavirus infection by introducing a “zero tolerance” policy, whereas most countries of the world have decided to mass vaccinate people and adapt to life with COVID-19.

China’s policy has indeed led to significantly fewer deaths in the country than in Europe and the United States, but these actions have led to unrest among the population.


Prerequisites for the opening of China at the end of 2022 early 2023

At the end of November 2022, thousands of people took to the streets of major cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai to protest against the introduction of lockdowns.

This happened after a fire in one of the apartment buildings in Urumqi, which claimed the lives of 9 people. The fire service was unable to save people because of the fences that were put up so that people would not go outside in lockdown.

This event is considered the starting point for the opening of China: after that, the authorities of the republic opened the departure of Chinese citizens to other countries, and Russian media increasingly began to report that the country would soon open to tourists.


How has the pandemic affected China’s tourism industry

Tourism in China is one of the most developed sectors of the economy. According to the UNWTO World Tourism Organization, the number of tourists visiting the country in 2017 exceeded 60 million, and in 2019 — 65 million. Tourism revenue in each of these years exceeded $35 billion.

During the pandemic, the number of tourists decreased to a minimum, which undoubtedly led to large financial losses and affected the economy of the country and the world. Now the Chinese authorities are determined to restore the tourism sector through its active support.


Opening China to tourists in 2023 — conditions for issuing visas and entering the country

After a long break that lasted almost 3 years, the Chinese government announced the opening of the country to Russians and citizens of other foreign countries.

So, for Russia, from March 15, 2023, the following rules apply for issuing visas and visiting the country:

  • entry is allowed with valid visas to the People’s Republic of China, open until March 28, 2020;
  • visa applications, including tourist and border visas, have resumed;
  • tourists were allowed to travel visa-free to the island Hainan, to Shanghai (by cruise ship), Guangdong for foreign groups from Hong Kong and Macau, as well as in Guilin, Guangxi Province, as part of ASEAN tourist groups.

Russians also have visa-free entry for up to 14 and 30 days to Hong Kong and Macau, respectively.

To travel to the country, you will need a negative result of a PCR test for covid (valid for 2 days), and before arrival, you must fill out a health questionnaire through the WeChat/Handy Customs application or through the website.

For persons flying from Russia to China on a direct flight, it is enough to present a negative result of the antigen test (valid for 1 day).


The result

China, like the whole world, has been fighting the spread of coronavirus for 3 years, which inevitably affected the situation in the country and its economy. Tourism and other sectors of the PRC will recover for a long time after a long stagnation.

In March 2023, after prolonged isolation, China nevertheless opened up to Russian travelers: visa issuance resumed, many covid restrictions were lifted, and the number of flights to China continues to increase. At the moment, the country is actively preparing to welcome tourists.

Uway company prepares visas, as well as provides immigration and relocation services, including obtaining a residence permit, permanent residence, citizenship and starting a business abroad. Details on the website.

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