Chinese travel agencies to resume group tours to Maldives from Feb 6

Chinese travel agencies will resume group tours to 20 countries, including Maldives, starting February 6, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Friday.

“From Feb 6, 2023, travel agencies and online travel companies across the country will resume pilot outbound group tours and the provision of ‘airline tickets + hotel’ services for Chinese citizens to eligible countries,” the statement said, reported by Reuters and other international news agencies.

Group tours will be organised to Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba and Argentina.

In December, China’s government started to gradually ease its “zero tolerance” policy toward the pandemic, which had been the strictest in the world for almost three years. On January 8, obligatory PCR testing and centralised isolation for people arriving in China were cancelled.

The country’s authorities also said that they intended to resume the provision of services for the issuance of ordinary visas, temporary residence permits and residence permits for foreign citizens, including the implementation of visa-free transit measures within 24, 72 and 144 hours, and the issuance of temporary entry permits.

Tourists from China began arriving in Maldives on Wednesday after a three-year hiatus due to Covid-19.

Beijing Capital Airlines became the first Chinese airline to operate flights to the Maldives since March 2020 when its flight landed at the Maldives’ Velana International Airport (VIA) on Wednesday.

Beijing Capital will operate four charters to the Maldives, with three this month and the last on February 1.

China Eastern will begin scheduled flights on January 28, with flights every Saturday.

China will account for at least 10% of the total tourist arrivals to the Maldives in the coming months, Maldives Travel Agents and Tour Operators Association (MATATO) said last week.

Infections in China have spiked after the country dropped its strict zero-cases policy, allowing the virus to spread.

But Maldives government has said it would not require travellers from China to produce a negative Covid-19 test or take any additional precautionary measures for arrivals from China, bucking a trend that has seen a number of nations implement such measures as cases surge in China.

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