Chinese Revenge Travelers Will Steer Clear of a Hostile US

To lure back lucrative tourists as China reopens from Covid lockdowns, local governments must first convince them they’re safe in America.

Earlier this week China announced that it would no longer force travelers entering or re-entering the country into lengthy and expensive Covid quarantines. Within 30 minutes, searches for international flights and accommodations at Ctrip, China's largest travel agency, hit a three-year high, as locked-down Chinese headed for the exits.

These early bookings are just a start. In 2019, Chinese took more than 154 million international trips, the most of any country; in 2023, they'll be looking to make up for lost time.

That's a potential windfall for the countries that Chinese tourists favor. But the US, historically a popular destination for Chinese going abroad, may struggle to be included. Even before Covid, Chinese visits to the US were declining because of geopolitical tensions, safety fears and competition from other destinations.

The pandemic has further heightened concerns, and unless US businesses and governments make a concerted effort to welcome Chinese back, the US tourism industry stands to lose out on the biggest wave of revenge tourism that the post-pandemic world will offer.