China's Ministry of Tourism announced the lifting of the ban on group travel for Chinese tourists

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China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced the lifting of the ban on Chinese groups traveling to more than 70 countries. On August 10, 2023, the pandemic era restrictions were finally lifted.

Chinese nationals traveling in organized tour groups can now visit key markets in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North America that were previously restricted.

These include countries such as:

  • Australia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Lebanon
  • Oman (electronic visa required)
  • Qatar (electronic visa required)
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States (electronic visa required)

The first bans on group travel from China were lifted in January to 20 countries, to countries such as:

  • Argentina
  • Cuba
  • Russia (electronic visa required)
  • Thailand (electronic visa required)

Later in March, 40 other countries, including Brazil, France, Nepal (tourist visa required), and Portugal, lifted restrictions on group travel from China.

Reactions to the cancellation of the prohibition on group travel from China

The news that China has lifted its ban on group travel to 70 countries has elicited joyful reactions from officials of many nations. Among them are Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australian Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell. " This is another positive step towards the stabilisation of our relationship with China," Farrell said.

The move has also been called a "significant win" for the U.S. tourism industry, as noted by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. She also described the news as the result of "months of hard work" with China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Adam Burke, head of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, agreed that " the opening of group travel from China to the U.S. is a significant milestone". He added that " it’s impossible to overstate the importance of Chinese tourism to Los Angeles".

Before the pandemic, tourists from mainland China spent more money on travel than tourists from any other country. Group tours from China accounted for about 60 percent of the total revenue.

Chinese tourists will be able to visit South Korea for the first time in six years. South Korea holds a special place in the list of countries that are now available to Chinese tour groups. Chinese citizens were previously banned from traveling to South Korea following a dispute over the installation of a U.S. missile defense system in Seoul in 2017.

Now, Chinese tourists are once again able to visit South Korea as part of organized tour groups. However, to do so, they need to obtain a visa from the South Korean consulate in China. Regardless of the length of stay, a visa is a prerequisite.

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