China has reopened to tourists. The hard part is getting there.
04/11/2023|11:16:42 AM|New York Times

When the Chinese government announced last month that it would fully reopen its borders to foreign travelers, the news came as a jolt of relief to the millions of Chinese immigrants overseas who have been separated from their relatives since 2020.

But a flood of visitors has yet to arrive. Many people are struggling to even book a plane ticket, stymied by high prices and a lack of direct flights.

The biggest barrier came down last month when the Chinese government resumed issuing tourist visas. China has also said it would reinstate the 10-year visas that had been suspended during the pandemic, facilitating the travel of many overseas visitors.

Prices have stayed high partly because airlines have been slow to ramp up their flights to China. Globally, the number of flights into China in March was only about a quarter of what they were in the same month in 2019, according to Cirium, an aviation data provider.

But the gates are gradually opening.

Bookings for group tours have surged for a holiday break in China in early May, according to Ctrip, a Chinese online travel agency. The top destinations included Thailand, Egypt and Switzerland, Ctrip said.

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