>> Visa and Mastercard, which bet on China to boost travel spending, have had to contend with a disappointing first half of the year as post-Covid-19 momentum in the world’s second-biggest economy loses steam. In their earnings calls this week, both card giants said travel in China was nowhere near pre-pandemic levels.
>> Hilton has announced a number of new signings in China in the first half of this year, marking continued growth across multiple brand categories with properties strategically located in ancient capitals, cultural hotspots, vacation resorts and wellness retreats.
“Hilton’s strong brand portfolio offers owners the options and solutions that leverage evolving market opportunities, while achieving stable returns,” said Jerry Huang, president of development, Greater China & Mongolia, Hilton.
>> China was once the world’s most plentiful source of international tourists, and Southeast Asia was among their top destinations. From 2009 to 2019, the number of travelers grew from 47.7 million to 154.63 million. Covid interrupted the trend, but many governments and businesses believed it would be temporary. That turned out to be false.
>> Low-cost airlines are ramping up flights to China, although capacity continues to lag the level recorded prior to the pandemic, while the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) doesn't wish to rush into using a visa fee waiver scheme to attract more foreign tourists. Despite lifting border restrictions since the beginning of this year, which was earlier than expected, the tourism market is expected to only recover to less than 50% of the level seen in 2019, which peaked at roughly 10 million.
>> With travel back on an upswing, following a few tough years brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world are vying to attract new visitors. Cuba is among them, and is working with Chinese travel professionals to help promote Chinese tourist visits.
>> Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) has obtained a Welcome Chinese Certification, the first in the Kingdom and the MENA region. The accreditation reflects how Riyadh Airports Company (RAC) is meeting Chinese passengers’ needs in KKIA’s terminals and facilities, offering a seamless travel experience, and strengthening its relationship with the Chinese market, one of the biggest markets in Asia and the world.
>> China’s domestic tourism market is expected to rebound to 90% of pre-pandemic levels this year thanks to surging demand since Covid-related travel restrictions were lifted in late 2022. A total of 5.5 billion trips are expected within China during 2023, according to the China Tourism Academy. Revenue generated by the domestic travel market should reach 5 trillion yuan ($700 billion), about 80% of pre-Covid levels, said the group, the data center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
>> Chinese commercial service-robot maker Pudu Robotics will make a full-scale push into Japan's cleaning robot market, the company announced on Thursday, as it tries to expand beyond food service in the country.
>> The Tourism Bureau of Tainan City Government will partner with two global travel e-commerce platforms KKday and Klook to provide independent international travelers with a limited number of promotional codes commencing August 1 with validity until December 31 of this year.
>> Payment company Affirm announced a partnership with Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific to become the airline's exclusive US pay-over-time partner.
>> The 2023 Shanghai Tourism Festival, the city's annual tourism extravaganza, is ready to wow residents and travelers from around the world between September 16 and October 6 this year, local culture and tourism authorities announced on Thursday. A bevy of hundred major spectacular cultural and tourist activities will be rolled out across the city during the period.
>> Guangxi has seen a growing influx of travelers coming in through its border with Vietnam since the beginning of this year as cross-border tourism has been rebooted and started to pick up steam. Official data from Youyiguan Port shows that between January and June, the Youyiguan border checkpoint handled over 604,000 passenger trips, up 180 percent year on year, while the Dongxing Port, which borders Vietnam, saw over 1.53 million passenger trips.