China understands the importance of both inbound and outbound tourism and the government is working with private industry to boost numbers. Recently as we and other outlets have reported, the Chinese have taken over as the world’s biggest travelers and they are beginning to feel the weight of that title.
President Xi Jinping while touring Southeast Asia, recently commented on traveler behavior abroad. Of China’s growing number of tourists he noted: “Don’t litter water bottles, don’t destroy their coral reef…” and joked “Eat less instant noodles and more local seafood.” These comments were aimed at tourists from China, but also speak to China’s focus on better tourism within the country. China has invested billions of dollars this year to address air pollution, “smart travel,” and other tourism-related initiatives. But it’s not just their own domestic travelers which China is focused on.
The Chinese government is considering further expanding its 72-hour visa-free policy to additional areas throughout China, as well as continuing its efforts in expediting visa processing to other areas of China. A 72-hour visa-free policy is currently in place for travelers from the United States, Canada and 49 other countries, and allows transit passengers to enter select Chinese cities for up to 72 hours without a visa. Passengers with a booked plane ticket to a third country or region for within 72 hours can explore Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Guilin or Xi’an visa-free. Tourism officials hope that the visa-free allowances will boost tourism to these areas of China. The result of all this is that China will need more planes. This is of course really good news for the aviation industry.
Since China continues to be a hot spot for international travel the need for aircraft to service the destination continues to grow at a torrid pace. Boeing recently projected that China will need more than 6,000 aircraft in the next 20 years, which would make it the world’s largest aircraft market (it is currently the world’s second-biggest behind the U.S.). This announcement comes shortly after China Eastern Airlines purchased 80 Boeing 737s and Hainan Airlines bought 50. Air China alone has opened several new routes to and from the U.S. in the last year, and China Southern Airlines began a non-stop New York route last month.So clearly Chinese carriers are doing their part to help the government achieve its goals of more tourism. In fact more routes, and more flights works both ways, more Chinese travelers abroad and more international arrivals to China.