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Air connections regrowing and new measures to bring more visitors to China

Air connections regrowing and new measures to bring more visitors to China

Dear reader,

Last week your humble editor had the honour to be invited to a webinar of OAG, talking about the future of aviation in Northeast Asia.

While China is still not publishing detailed numbers for inbound and outbound travel, but only totals of border crossings with unclear definitions, the OAG numbers have a clear message.

Domestically the passenger air transport capacity stayed 15% above the 2019 level in May 2024, one percent lower than in May 2023. Competitors in the region on the other hand have not reached yet 2019 levels again.

Internationally the picture is very different. China and Hong Kong SAR were still behind in May 2024 compared to May 2019 by a substantial 28% and 29% respectively. Japan and South Korea meanwhile reached more than 90% of the 2019 values in the same period according to OAG.

When will the region and especially China be back to 2019 levels? This question was debated in the webinar, with participant Gary Bowerman and your humble editor agreeing that the full capacity will probably be back by the end of this or the beginning of next year.

The discourse has mostly concentrated on the slow build-up of China’s outbound tourism. However, the decrease in travel into China has also to be recognized as a factor in low demand for air capacity. China is trying hard to bring more foreigners to China, with visa-free entry for citizens of many countries and now also with a clear statement that all hotels in China are open to foreigners and that hotels do not have the right to send away foreign guests based on non-existing regulations.

However, as we seem to have reached China Peak, and maybe even Global Tourism Peak, it is unlikely that pre-pandemic growth rates in air capacity will ever be reached again. As your humble editor said in the webinar: 2017/2018 will be remembered as the good old times in global tourism, before overtourism, virus, a new cold war and climate change began to destroy the business model of 50 years of quantitative growth of Global Tourism 1.0.

In the meantime, lets enjoy the little human touch in travel: On the recent Sichuan Airline (not Air Arabia, as was stated two weeks ago, sorry) flight from Cairo to Chengdu the cabin personnel obviously thought that the "Sichuan" food they were serving was too bland, so they had procured a glass of lajiao (chili paste) and asked passengers if they want some. They opened the alu foil, put a spoonful of lajiao on the rice and closed it again.

When it comes to food, Chinese become guerilla. Or, as Chairman Mao said (who came from Hunan, where the food is even hotter than in Sichuan): If you cannot eat chili, you cannot be a revolutionary.

When you read this editorial, your humble editor has hopefully already arrived in Lalitpur in Nepal to conduct, among other activities, a China outbound workshop together with my dear colleague Dr. Ali Akaak, arriving from Oman. Another training will be offered in cooperation with Dr. Jens Thraenhart, coming up from Bangkok, having Meaningful Tourism and High-Yield tourism as topics.

If you are in the region on June 4th, contact the organisers PATA Nepal Chapter, to register.

As always, all best wishes for all readers from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the entire COTRI INTELLIGENCE team!