Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed the importance of opening up to the outside world over the past five years, saying, “China’s opening-up will not stop, and the door will only open wider to the world.”

But for the tourism industry, such pronouncements have not translated into tangible outcomes, mainly due to the abrupt halt of tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw China strictly implement prevention and control measures.

Five months after China resumed issuing all types of visas and half a year after it reopened its border following a three-year closure, the tourism sector is now being tasked with lending a helping hand as the world’s second-largest economy struggles with COVID-related aftershocks and demographic challenges. However, an expected influx of international visitors has not yet emerged.