China says will maintain ban on outbound tours due to coronavirus risk

A tour guide leads a group of tourists outside the Forbidden City in Beijing on Oct 21, 2020.
A tour guide leads a group of tourists outside the Forbidden City in Beijing on Oct 21, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China will continue to suspend outbound group tours and ban travel agencies from allowing inbound tours due to the risk of a resurgence in coronavirus cases this winter, authorities said.

The country's Ministry of Culture and Tourism made the announcement in a notice published on its website on Wednesday (Oct 21).

China first suspended both domestic and outbound tours in January as part of stringent pandemic control measures to curb the spread of the virus which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan. However, since July it has allowed domestic tours to resume amid a sharp drop in the number of new local cases.

Its curbs on outbound group tours have had a debilitating impact on the tourism industry in countries such as Thailand which have become heavily reliant on Chinese tourists over the years.

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of Thailand's tourism authority, said that 41 Chinese travellers flew into Bangkok from Shanghai on Tuesday. They held special tourist visas granted by the Thai government earlier this month, China Daily reported.

It is unclear whether the travellers went to Thailand via a travel agency or on individual tours. Under the current suspension guidelines, Chinese citizens are not allowed to take outbound trips that are part of a group tour.