Is China a model for leisure travel?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Last week, the World Aviation Festival was held.

Time for a trip to Tenerife?
Tenerife – our favourite holiday destination outside the UK – might help kick-start leisure travel when the times comes to fly again.

Usually thousands meet to discuss everything from airports, airlines, retailing to passengers, sustainability and green flight plans, trading, passenger satisfaction and expectations and problems.

The problem this year is the virus and how to navigate through it.

China was the first nation to be severely hit by the virus, the first to impose what seemed then to be drastic measures to curb it and the first to come out of it.

Since that time, it appears they have seen very little evidence of a second spike which has meant that domestic tourism has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels. Domestic flights have returned to about 95% of levels in 2019.

This wasn’t just the view of one person at the Festival.

It was the view of both airline representatives and Zheng Lei – the president of the Institute of Aviation Research.

But can this evidence be used to point to a return to a semblance of normality in the UK and perhaps in Europe?

I fear the answer is no in relation to the UK and possibly no as it might apply to Europe although that didn’t deter a bevy of  people closely following the evidence of all those participants that came from China.

Why am I not optimistic?

Because China has an extensive domestic market for aviation and the UK does not. This coming week is Golden Week when families tradionally reunite and estimates of 600 million domestic travellers has been forecast by some travel companies.

These numbers dwarf the total population of the UK.

Apart from flights from the south of England to Scotland, most journeys can be done on a city-centre to city-centre basis in about the same time as a flight.

In Europe, intra-national journeys can also be made quickly by train. It is only international journeys that might be compared to China’s market.

And that is where I fee aviation will bounce back. In flights across Europe. The problem there is that governments are introducing restrictions on where their residents can and cannot go.

In the UK there was uproar from the trade when Spain, Portugal, France, Portugal and now Turkey was effectively closed off to holidaymakers. Only when those re-open can leisure travel start to make a return in  anything like 2019 numbers.

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