China says will maintain ban on outbound tours due to virus risk

FILE PHOTO: Visitors wearing face masks practise social distancing as they line up outside a souvenir shop at the Temple of Heaven, or Tiantan Park, on the first day of the five-day Labour Day holiday following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Florence Lo

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will continue to suspend outbound group tours and ban travel agencies from allowing inbound tours due to the risk of a resurgence in coronavirus cases this winter, authorities said.

The country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism made the announcement in a notice published on its website on Wednesday.

China first suspended both domestic and outbound tours in January as part of stringent pandemic control measures to curb the spread of the virus which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan. However, since July it has allowed domestic tours to resume amid a sharp drop in the number of new local cases.

Its curbs on outbound group tours have had a debilitating impact on the tourism industry in countries such as Thailand which have become heavily reliant on Chinese tourists over the years.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Shri Navaratnam