Restrictions on tour groups traveling between provinces have been eased to strike a better balance between COVID-19 control and prevention work and the recovery of the domestic tourism industry.
Travelers with negative nucleic acid test results within 48 hours of departure, can take all transportation for travel between provinces, said a Ministry of Culture and Tourism notice issued on Tuesday.
However, travel agencies and online travel platforms should maintain their suspension of services — including flight and hotel bookings — for international tour groups, the notice said.
A "circuit-breaker" mechanism for cross-provincial group tours was implemented in August 2021 that suspended domestic group tours traveling to destinations designated as having "medium" or "high" COVID risks.
There were no restrictions on individual travelers, however, they were discouraged from cross-provincial trips.
The ministry said that the latest adjustments for travelers and tour operators were part of a more precise and scientific approach to tackling the virus.
The measures will help reduce the side effects the epidemic has had on the culture and tourism industries, while strengthening the protection of people's health.
The positive responses to the changes to the travel policy were quickly reflected by a surge in travel bookings.
Figures from travel portal Tuniu showed that as of 3 pm Wednesday, searches for cross-provincial tours had risen by 149 percent from Tuesday and 132 percent from Monday.
Another travel portal, Tongcheng Travel, said within an hour of the information being released to the public, searches for group tours surged by over 600 percent from the previous day. Searches for flight and train tickets also increased by 182 percent and 97 percent respectively.
Qunar, also an online travel agency, said train ticket reservations doubled the day after the new policy was announced.
Yang Guanghui, Qunar's director for leisure products, said the burst of train ticket reservations reflected people's greater confidence in traveling to outside provinces.
Yang added that the adjusted policy will help drive the recovery of domestic group tours, as well as the entire tourism industry.
On Friday, the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism released 20 measures to optimize the COVID-19 epidemic control.