Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Little impact from new COVID-19 cases in Yunnan so far: travel agencies

Tourists select accessories in the old town of Dali, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, March 3, 2021. The charming night view of the old town of Dali attracts a lot of tourists.

After six newly added COVID-19 infections and three asymptomatic ones were reported in Ruili, Southwest China’s Yunnan Province on Wednesday, several travel agencies said they had yet to see a significant impact on nationwide tourism and travel during the upcoming Qingming Festival.

China CYTS Tours told the Global Times on Wednesday that the latest outbreak has had little impact so far and the agency has not been getting requests for refunds.

“The new COVID-19 cases will have little impact on tourists’ confidence during Qingming Festival and May Day holiday nationally, because of the city’s remote location and China’s proven ability in pandemic control,” Xu Xiaolei, marketing manager at China’s CYTS Tours Holding Co, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Popular tourist destinations in Yunnan are Kunming, Dali, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and Tengchong, rather than Ruili, which borders Myanmar, he added.

A salesperson with China’s online travel agency Group told the Global Times on Wednesday morning that trips to Yunnan Province are still on sale and available for booking.

“The location where the outbreak occurred is not close to most of the places that tourists go. If the risk level escalates, local tour guides may adjust their itineraries to avoid any risks,” she said.

“It is not expected that the new COVID-19 cases will have a big impact on tourism. We’ve had a lot of inquiries about tours in Ruili. So far, there haven’t been a lot of requests for refunds.”

Airlines are offering no-penalty refunds for flights booked to Ruili, but few people have so far taken up this offer.

Ruili Airlines issued a no-penalty refund notice for flights bound for Mangshi city, which has the nearest airport to Ruili.

Online travel service provider told the Global Times that so far, the confirmed cases in Ruili have had little impact on flight bookings within Yunnan Province and nationally during the Qingming Festival, which runs from April 3-5.

Qunar data shows that at present, more than 50 percent of ticket refunds involved flights for Kunming and Mangshi that were scheduled to depart on Wednesday and Thursday. These cancelations would have a minimal influence for travel during the holiday.

The city of Ruili, which borders Myanmar, has ordered a one-week home quarantine for residents of the city urban area due to new COVID-19 cases there. It also ordered COVID-19 tests for all residents and vowed to crack down on illegal border crossings.

The new cases were detected ahead of the Qingming Festival, with many Chinese having prepared to take short trips during the holidays.

A Beijing-based tourist bound for Xishuangbanna told the Global Times on Wednesday that she will not change her plans at the moment.

“Our destination is far from Ruili. The hotel and tickets are already reserved, and the costs are relatively high. But we will monitor the development of the outbreak and flexibly change our plan.

“If the epidemic spreads out of Ruili, we will consider returning home in advance.”

Domestic guesthouse booking platform Tujia told the Global Times that most of the reservations for the Qingming Festival are in first- and second-tier cities, such as Chengdu, Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Changsha, Xiamen and Nanjing, while Ruili is still a minor destination.

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