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China’s air travel down 50% year-on-year, making Asia-Pacific no longer the world’s top travel destination

China’s air travel down 50% year-on-year, making Asia-Pacific no longer the world’s top travel destination

China’s air travel down 50% year-on-year, making Asia-Pacific no longer the world’s top travel destination

Strict COVID-19 restrictions in China are limiting the flexibility of the economy, with vacationers and flights in general taking much less vacation time than in the days before the pandemic. The latest data from the Center for Aviation (CAPA) shows that Asia-Pacific will not be the world’s top travel region by the end of this year as travel in Europe overtakes it, crowning the old continent as the world’s top travel region big in 2022.

Meanwhile, in a Twitter post, Bloomberg’s top forecaster Christophe Barraud, highlighted that air travel in China is plummeting again, with the number of flights down nearly 50% year-on-year, mostly due to new restrictive measures Golden week.

Numbers game

While air traffic in China has fallen by more than 48% compared to pre-pandemic levels, air traffic in Europe has recovered to about 85% of pre-pandemic levels, according to Airportia’s Finbold data.

In 2019, 3.38 billion registered passengers traveled through airports in the Asia-Pacific region, while current forecasts suggest that “only” 1.84 billion passengers will pass through these airports by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Regional Vice President for Asia-Pacific Philip Goh claimed that 73-74% of pre-pandemic traffic should return by the end of this year.

Though this new estimate is slightly higher than the previously expected 70-73% recovery, Goh says China is being plagued by labor problems and economic headwinds. Xie Xingquan, IATA regional vice-president for North Asia covering mainland China, commented that the recovery should be through international travel, not just domestic, as China is also a big generator of international travel and the country is resuming that role should be the future.

China tourists stay home

The week-long National Day (Golden Week) holiday saw an influx of 422 million tourist trips in China, down 18.2% year-on-year and accounting for only 60.7% of the pre-COVID-19 travel volume. Also, tourists spent $40.37 billion, down 26.2% YoY and just 44.2% of what was spent in the days leading up to the 2019 pandemic.

Additionally, Chinese tourists preferred shorter trips and concentrated in more open areas such as suburban parks, fields and city parks, likely due to the strict Co-vid restrictions and less crowding in these more open spaces.

 

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