China’s biggest online travel agencies have reopened booking for domestic holiday packages and attraction tickets after the country’s tourism industry came to a two-month standstill following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Why it matters: Authorities in China are attempting to return the country to a state of normalcy. As a result, online travel platforms could see a spike in demand for domestic destinations as infection rates soar outside of China.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the international travel industry as countries around the world impose travel restrictions and airlines shut down routes to worst-hit areas.

Details: Chinese online travel agencies Ctrip and Qunar have begun presale bookings for domestic packages in April and May, the South China Morning Post reported.

  • Ctrip started selling the travel packages and attraction tickets through its app earlier this month after China began reopening tourist spots around the country.
  • As of March 17, tickets to nearly 1,500 popular tourist areas could be bought online and 40% of the country’s top tourist spots had reopened, the report said.
  • Qunar said that user searches for the upcoming May 1 holiday had increased by nearly 80% in a week.
  • The growing interest in travel comes after nearly two months of restrictions on mobility to control the virus that has killed nearly 3,300 people in China.
  • Ctrip warned last week that its first-quarter revenue could plunge by as much as half as a result of travel restrictions.
  • The company is reportedly seeking to raise $1.2 billion in loans from domestic and international banks to refinance and fund working capital, Bloomberg reported.

Context: Companies like Ctrip and Qunar have taken a massive hit after the Chinese government imposed citywide lockdowns in the country and countries around the world imposed travel bans on people coming from China.

  • China’s tourism revenue is expected to drop by RMB 1.18 trillion (around $167.72 billion) in 2020, according to the China Tourism Academy.

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based technology reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com. More by Chris Udemans