China Vacation Packages Put on Sale by World's Biggest Tourism Group As It Urges Europe to Lift Travel Restrictions

With the coronavirus lockdown lifted in China, TUI—the world's largest tourism group—has resumed selling trips to a selection of China's beach resorts and mountains within the "TUI Selection" portfolio of locations, the German company confirmed in a statement on Sunday.

"The portfolio also includes programs near major cities. This means that tourism and air travel are once again taking place in China," the statement said.

"Our offices in Beijing and Shanghai were also in operation during the crisis, but holidays could not be sold. Now we see a clear backlog demand for holiday travel. TUI China will gradually increase its range of offers in the next few weeks," the CEO of TUI, Fritz Joussen, said in the statement.

He also said tourism and air travel must be reopened in the parts of Europe "that have made good progress and are actively promoting the return of holidaymakers [tourists]," such as Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain's Balearic Islands, Austria and Bulgaria.

TUI China vacation packages include trips near the capital Beijing, Shanghai (the most populous urban area of China) and to the city of Sanya on the island of Hainan in southern China. The packages also offer trips to other "destinations in well-known mountain and natural regions," the company states.

"The safety of the guests continues to have top priority. When compiling the TUI Selection portfolio, care was taken to ensure that the hotels meet all health and safety standards for travelers. In addition, only those destinations where the epidemic has been completely brought under control were considered," the statement said.

Joussen also noted that traffic on TUI's booking websites is "90 percent compared to the previous year, although travel is currently not possible. Bookings for 2021 are also at a favorable level."

"We must now emerge well from the crisis. Tourism within Europe needs a clear perspective. The EU [European Union] and the member states should develop a roadmap for travel within Europe and make holidays possible in 2020...holidays at home are an offer, but should not be the only answer for Europe and Europeans," Joussen said.

People on the beach in Sanya on China's Hainan Island, pictured on April 20, 2020.
People on the beach in Sanya on China's Hainan Island, pictured on April 20, 2020. Getty Images

Various countries in Europe and other parts of the world imposed a travel ban on travelers from some of the regions worst-hit by the outbreak in a bid to help curb the spread of the virus. Parts of Europe and countries elsewhere have begun easing lockdown restrictions, such as in Italy and Spain, after showing signs of the outbreak slowing down. But travel bans have yet to be lifted in most countries.

The novel coronavirus was first reported in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China. Wuhan was under a strict two-month lockdown from January 23 in the wake of the outbreak. The country also closed its borders to foreign nationals, including those with valid visas.

But domestic travel restrictions in parts of Hubei were lifted from around mid-March, while Wuhan was opened up in early last month.

China reported two new cases on Saturday, up by one from the previous day, according to the latest report Sunday from China's National Health Commission (NHC). One of the cases was imported, while the other was local.

The health commission also noted that asymptomatic cases had dropped to 12 on May 2, 20 less than the previous day.

While the outbreak has reportedly been mostly contained in China, doubts over the accuracy of the country's virus figures have been raised for weeks.

Last month, over 900 cases appeared to have been wrongly counted as recoveries in Wuhan. On April 17, there were around 47,300 recoveries reported in Wuhan, but on April 20, the figure appeared to have dropped by around 941 to 46,359.

The number of recovered patients across the country also fell to 77,084 on April 20, dropping from 77,944 reported on April 17, according to figures reported by the NHC.

The updated figures followed a revised death toll in Wuhan reported by the health commission on April 17, which saw the city's death count increase by about 50 percent, with an additional 1,290 fatalities.

China has reported 83,964 confirmed cases, including at least 4,637 deaths, to date. The virus has infected over 3.5 million across at least 187 countries and regions. More than 1.1 million have reportedly recovered from infection, while over 247,700 have died, as of Monday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates countries with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases.

A graph showing the countries with the most known COVID-19 cases.
A graph showing the countries with the most known COVID-19 cases. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
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World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

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Medical advice

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Mask and glove usage

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  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
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  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.