China's Hainan to continue expanding visa-free travel
>> China's Hainan province intends to continue expanding visa-free travel as well as easing visa procedures for those arriving on the island aboard cruise ships and yachts, Xinhua reported citing its sources in local administration. Since May 1, 2018, the province has had visa-free travel for foreigners from 59 countries who book their tours through travel agencies. Last year, more than 470,000 foreigners made visa-free trips to the Hainan island, up by 33% from 2018.
Chinese visitors to Australia drop 83% in February
>> Chinese tourist arrivals to Australia in February plunged 83% to 19,500 from 116,900 in the same month last year, following a ban on direct flights to tackle the spread of coronavirus. Last year, China was Australia's No.1 source of international tourists, with more than 1.4 million of them visiting. On February 1 this year, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison banned foreign nationals from arriving in Australia for 14 days, if they had left or transited through mainland China.
Disney chairman looks to China on virus checks at parks
>> With all its parks still closed globally, Disney's executive chairman Bog Iger recently talked to Barron’s about future measures when the parks reopen. Iger said he remains optimistic and realistic about the future. After learning about China's strict measures in virus containment, the world's biggest theme-park operator could be taking its guests' temperatures at entrance when it returns to business, according to Iger.
Hundreds of hotels in Wuhan call for government aid
>> Hundreds of hotels in Wuhan have teamed up on an open letter calling on local government to issue financial assistance after they voluntarily provided free accommodation for medical workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Hotel Apartment Volunteer Union” of over 300 independent hotel/apartment owners said they have collectively provided 200,000 nights of free stays for healthcare workers since the Wuhan lockdown, valued in total at more than RMB 20 million (USD 2.83 million).
Trip.com Group invests in a PMS provider
>> ChinaTravelNews has learned that Trip.com Group has invested in PMS provider GreenCloud through its investment vehicle Shanghai Kehui Venture Capital. As of now, all major PMS providers in China have OTAs as investors. Hotel PMS provider Shiji received a strategic investment from Alibaba, which owns travel service platform Fliggy, in 2014. Beijing-based Jointwisdom was formed by merging Trip.com Group’s subsidiaries. Travel agency Tongcheng-Elong invested in Zhuzhe, Yunzhanggui and Haozhanyou. Meituan-Dianping invested in PMS provider for alternative accommodation Fanqiele in 2015, and later fully acquired Shanghai-based hotel PMS provider BeyondHost in 2018.
Trip.com CEO upbeat on travel rebound
>> Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group, is optimistic the travel industry can rebound from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. In an interview with Bloomberg, Sun says her company was prepared for a sudden shut down she and believes people will be ready to travel again as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Cross-border payment startup raises $160 million
>> Airwallex, a Melbourne-based cross-border financial startup that achieved “unicorn” status last year, announced that it has raised USD 160 million in Series D round funding. Tencent, Sequoia Capital China and Hillhouse Capital have backed the round. Founded in 2015, the company’s financial services include foreign currency accounts that let businesses receive money from around the world.
Tour operator WWPKG to post significant revenue loss
>> Hong Kong tour operator WWPKG Holdings expects to record a significant decrease in revenue for April and May due to the impact of COVID-19 as Japan recently suspended its visa-free policy to Hong Kong and Macao passport holders. The company derives a majority of its revenue from Japan-bound tours.
Hong Kong airline carries 90% fewer passengers in March
>> Cathay Pacific recorded drastic decreases in passenger number last month. The capacity deductions reflected the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary brand Cathay Dragon carried a total of 311,128 passengers in March, down by 90% from last year. Revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) fell 84.3% year-on-year. Passenger load factor slid by 34.6 percentage points to 49.3%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometers (ASKs), decreased by 73.2%.
>> Cathay Pacific is allowing its customers to make unlimited changes to new tickets, at no extra cost for all new tickets purchased before June 30 this year. Passengers who booked before March 9 can also make unlimited changes but fees may apply. Customers will get free and unlimited changes available for up to one year after the ticket has been purchased.
While Hong Kong Airlines, a local rival owned by indebted HNA Group, said it will offer customers unlimited changes and no change fees for tickets purchased between March 16 to June 30 this year.
China Southern to move to Daxing airport by March 2021
>> China Southern Airlines is planning on moving all of its operations from Beijing Capital International Airport to Beijing Daxing International Airport by March 2021, according to a news report by Flight Global. The Guangzhou-based airline, which is currently operating 10% of its capacity at the new Daxing airport, said its operations at Daxing will make up 40% of total traffic from the airport by May.
Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail operator posts 16% profit rise
>> China's most profitable rail operator that runs a line between Beijing and Shanghai has grown its gains steadily last year, according to its first annual report published as a listed company. But the COVID-19 pandemic may eat into its earnings this year. Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway made 16% more in net profit at RMB 11.9 billion (USD 1.7 billion) last year from a year before. The company expects the coronavirus to have a temporary impact on its operation this year while the level of impact will depend on the duration of nationwide prevention policies, it added.