Research Briefing | Jan 13, 2023

China Re-opening: What happens now?

China’s late December announcement to reopen its borders in January 2023 came as a surprise to the international community and was in stark contrast to the messaging during the National Party Congress a little over a month earlier in November.

What you will learn:

  • This announcement contrasted with our prior expectation of a more gradual and phased re-opening later in the year and the recent downgrading of the outlook for Chinese travel.
  • However, there remain significant barriers to an immediate rebound to pre-pandemic levels, notably including a lack of immediate capacity as well as the re-imposition of some safety measures worldwide, with associated impacts on traveller confidence amid the current wave of Covid infections. Recovery in Chinese travel this year is likely to be slower than seen in many other countries following the removal of strict border restrictions.
  • Our forecast remains cautious for recovery in Chinese travel in 2023, with any growth focused in the second half of the year. Our baseline is for travel to China to remain 80% below 2019 levels while outbound travel from China to destinations worldwide should be 69%.
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