Chinese travelers say new restrictions are ‘unfair’ — but they’re angry at some countries more than others – CNBC

Chinese travelers say new restrictions are ‘unfair’ — but they’re angry at some countries more than others – CNBC

Travel restrictions launched in the wake of China’s border reopening may be affecting where people there are booking trips.

But it’s not out of spite, said several Chinese travelers who spoke to CNBC.

It’s because some countries aren’t letting them in, they said.

‘I think it’s unfair’

Reactions from Chinese travelers who spoke to CNBC were varied, ranging from indifference to confusion to anger.

“Of course, I think it’s unfair,” said one citizen, who asked to be called Bonnie. “But at the same time, we understand what’s going on.”

So far, more than a dozen countries have announced new rules for travelers departing from China. Last week, the European Union recommended that its members require Chinese travelers to take Covid tests before entering.

But Covid tests aren’t the problem, Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, told “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday. It’s that “these policies are directed only towards mainland Chinese,” he said.

South African Mansoor Mohamed, who lives in China, agreed. “It is relatively easy and cheap to do a Covid test in China, so it will not affect my travel planning,” he said.

However, I know that many patriotic Chinese colleagues and friends will avoid those countries for now because the practice of only testing passengers arriving from China is discriminatory,” he said.

Of course, China requires travelers to test negative before entering China, and has for three years.

The difference, Mohamed said, is that “every arrival [to China], including Chinese nationals … [is] subjected to the same rules.”

Where the Chinese are going

Gao Dan told CNBC she is planning to travel out of the province of Qinghai for the first time in more than two years. But she said she’s staying in China, adding that she “hasn’t looked into what other countries’ travel policies are,” according to a CNBC translation.

Others are booking trips abroad, but some not to their first-choice destinations — namely Japan and South Korea.

One traveler, named Bonnie, told CNBC her friends in China are going to Thailand rather than South Korea, even though “they wouldn’t have considered Thailand” before.

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“When China said they were opening the borders in January, all my friends said they’re going to Japan and Korea,” said Bonnie.

But they couldn’t get visas, she said. “So they are now going to Thailand.”   

Rein said Chinese travelers are now headed to Singapore and Thailand because “both countries are welcoming us.”

Of the top destinations Chinese nationals searched after the border reopening announcement, those are the only two that haven’t imposed new restrictions on incoming Chinese travelers.