UAE travel: Demand for flights to China slowly picking up, say agents

This comes as the country reopens its borders to foreign travellers, and as airlines boost their international seat capacity to and from China by 9.5 per cent


Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Mon 9 Jan 2023, 6:58 PM

Last updated: Mon 9 Jan 2023, 9:13 PM

A Chinese resident has said that she is keen to go back to China soon to introduce her son to his roots, as travel agents say the outbound demand for China as a travel destination is slowly picking up.

Kaili Liu, a Chinese resident in the UAE, said that if she could, she would like to go back to China for the New Year, but that she needs to wait for domestic stability. Another challenge for her is that the Chinese New Year doesn’t coincide with her son’s school schedule. “We may plan to fly back to Beijing in March and April. We are very excited because my son has not been back to China since he was born in Dubai,” said Kaili.

Having her son connect to his roots to feel a sense of belonging is very important for Kaili. “We can’t wait to fly back to China to show him everything; when the pandemic is finally over, and I can go back to my long-lost friends and family. It’s really been a long time,” she said.

She said that Chinese markets are ready for foreign traders to continue their business in China. “Some of my foreign friends faces difficulties travel to China, some of them have companies in China. I hope everything goes back to what it was before the pandemic. Everyone deserves a better quality of life, and to feel grateful that we conquered the difficulties,” she said, adding that 2023 is a new year not just for the Chinese people and their lifestyle. According to Kaili, in these three years, people have been thinking about the kind of lifestyle and workstyle they want – it’s a new era of opportunities, she said.

A little less than two weeks ahead of the Chinese New Year, and amidst the positive news about China reopening its borders to foreign travellers – as well as airlines boosting their January international seat capacity to and from China by 9.5 per cent – travel agents have said that demand is slowly picking up.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Mohamed Sukkar, the General Manager of Assil Travel and Tourism, said that they don’t see much movement when it comes to travelling to China. “Right now, they prefer to stay here. But we are getting some inquiries from business travellers.”

Saad Khan, Technology Business Partner, AlCabana Travels said that there are around 30 connections from China to Dubai on January 14. “Based on that, we can assume [there will be] a good amount of traffic from China. But it's hard to say if all of the travellers will be Chinese, or if they will be spending their time here on Chinese New Year.”

Some travel agencies said that they are closely monitoring the situation. “There are many tour operators in China who have closed down during the lockdown, and so we are looking at how things shape up at the moment,” said Gautam Bajaj, Managing Director at Turtle inbound tour operator, adding that that there are many people coming into Dubai from China.

Avinash Adnani, Managing Director of Pluto Travels, said there is a 30 to 40 per cent week-on-week growth when it comes to enquiries regarding travel to China. According to Raheesh Babu, Group COO, Musafir, things will be back to normal in a couple of months.

The Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai said that passengers travelling from the UAE to China will have to take a Covid-19 PCR test starting yesterday, Sunday, January 8.


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