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Carriers Sanguine on Travel Season

China Southern Airlines, the country’s largest carrier by passenger volume, will initiate a number of international routes between China and various offshore destinations during the summer-autumn flight season, said a senior executive on Monday.

The Guangzhou, Guangdong Province-based group will launch new air routes including Guangzhou to London Gatwick International Airport and Doha, Qatar; Beijing Daxing International Airport to Teheran, Iran and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to Moscow, from March 31 to Oct 26 this year.

In the meantime, China Southern Airlines will fly 188 international and regional routes, reaching countries and regions such as Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and Africa.

The carrier opened a new route between Beijing Daxing International Airport and the Macao Special Administrative Region on Monday. These expansions are in response to China’s favorable policies for inbound tourism and the steady recovery of the global tourism market, said Qu Guangji, vice-president of China Southern Airlines.

For example, thanks to visa-free policies for Chinese visitors, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore ranked as major overseas destinations in terms of flight booking volumes in March, according to Qunar, a Beijing-based online travel agency.

According to a report released by the Beijing-based China Tourism Academy, with the increasing momentum of the tourism market in China and the growing willingness of residents to travel abroad, it is predicted that the number of outbound tourists in 2024 will reach 130 million.

China Southern Airlines currently owns more than 900 passenger and cargo transport aircraft. It operates more than 3,000 daily flights to 224 destinations in 40 countries and regions across the world.

Air China, another major Chinese airline, recently announced that it will start its summer and autumn flight schedule for 2024 from midnight on March 31. The updated schedule will feature 96 international passenger routes, allowing the company to serve 40 countries and regions across 187 cities.

The Beijing-based airline will increase the frequency of 25 international and regional routes, including Beijing to Los Angeles, New York, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Athens, Geneva, Budapest and Vienna during the summer-autumn flight season. The service frequency of European routes will surpass the operational level in 2019.

With China creating more favorable conditions to facilitate foreigners to visit the country, Club Med SAS, a Paris-based travel and tourism operator, has launched a number of promotional programs in cities such as Lijiang, Yunnan Province, and Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in late March, to attract international guests to visit the country to enjoy its rich cultural heritage, natural landscapes, vibrant urban scenes and diverse local lifestyles.

In the first two months of 2024, Club Med’s business volume in the Chinese market experienced a 74 percent increase compared to the same period last year. The company currently operates nearly 70 resorts in 26 countries and regions.

The surge in overseas tourist arrivals can be attributed to China’s implementation of visa-free policies for a number of countries like Switzerland and Ireland, and the recent introduction of several measures aimed at simplifying entry procedures, said Andrew Xu, CEO of Club Med China.

“With a robust demand for skiing and summer vacations across all regions, we anticipate a sustained increase in bookings throughout 2024. China is one of Club Med’s most crucial markets,” said Xu.

“Leveraging Club Med’s global channels and resources, and supported by favorable entry and exit policies, we welcome more overseas guests to China,” he added.

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