China tourism watchers are becoming tentatively optimistic that outbound travel will resume in the next few months and increase further in the second half of the year.
China Outbound Tourism Research Institute founder and director Dr Wolfgang Arlt points to signs preparations are already underway in Beijing.
“As a sign of the preparation for the reopening can also be seen that during the annual plenary sessions of the People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced the introduction of a digital health passport for global travel to ease the flow of travellers,” Dr Arlt said in a weekly note.
Wang said it would allow China and other countries to verify the result of a traveller’s Covid-19 nucleic acid test and whether that person had been vaccinated against the coronavirus and met the requirements of “fully protected personal privacy”.
He also revealed plans to set up regional vaccination sites using Chinese-made vaccines for overseas Chinese and Chinese nationals currently in countries outside of China.
Holding a regular press briefing on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the health certificate would be available in digital and paper form with the certificate-holder’s NAT and IgG antibody test results and vaccination status on record. All the information will be encrypted in a QR code that can be verified, decrypt-ed and read by a public key provided by the Chinese side.
“The pandemic is still with us, but the world economy needs to be restarted and people-to-people exchanges resumed with no more delays,” he told reporters, according to a transcript of the event. “ “As countries are stepping up vaccination efforts, mutual recognition of vaccination has become part and parcel to mutual recognition of health codes among countries.”
He went on to say that China is ready to discuss mutually recognizable mechanisms for health codes that will “facilitate the issuance of visas, thus making cross-border travel much easier.”
Despite the encouraging noises and signs gross gambling revenue picked up in the beginning of March, analysts still say they believe the renewed issuance of e-visas to Macau and group visas is still some way off.