Tens of thousands of travelers began to fly in and out of mainland China on Sunday as Beijing removed almost all of its border restrictions, bringing an end to pandemic measures that effectively sealed off the world’s most populous nation from the rest of the world for three years.
The Chinese tourists heading abroad bring hope for relief to economies that had come to rely on spending by Chinese travelers in the years before the pandemic. The flow of travelers will likely remain restrained for a while as airlines readjust and some governments keep restrictions in place to prevent importing infections from China’s largest Covid-19 outbreak yet.
China’s decision to restore a freer flow of movement across its borders, announced in late December, ends one of the most tangible symbols of China’s Covid-era isolation—particularly for the many middle- and upper-class Chinese citizens who had grown accustomed to traveling abroad freely before the pandemic.
The reopening also allows the business community to visit China’s fast-growing market again. China’s Commerce Ministry said Friday that it had received strong signs of support from foreign executives who were eager to visit China, check on their operations and consider new investments.
Hong Kong-based business executive Sherry Shi and her son were among thousands of overseas Chinese who boarded a plane bound for the mainland on Sunday.