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Trip.com says it’s ‘more confident than ever’ in China’s long-term travel recovery

SINGAPORE — Online travel agency Trip.com is “more confident than ever” that China’s domestic tourism will recover in the long run, chief executive Jane Sun said on Thursday.

That’s despite fresh lockdowns in the country as new coronavirus cases emerge.

“In the long run, we are very optimistic about the recovery,” Sun told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.” Trip.com is one of China’s largest online travel sites.

She said China saw “very strong recovery” during the country’s last holiday season in October and that it’s taking steps to administer vaccines in high risk areas.

Communities are also more experienced in identifying and isolating cases in order to control the virus, she said.

“With all these factors, we’re more confident than ever that in the long run, the domestic travel business will be recovering,” said Sun.

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Local tourism in China bounced back when the virus situation stabilized, and September’s domestic flights grew from the year before, according to Reuters.

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Tourists take photo of icefall at Tianlongchi scenic area on January 9, 2021 in Pingdingshan, Henan province of China.

Shi Guangming | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Sun noted that coronavirus outbreaks appear to worsen in colder months, but said there have already been “positive moves” in 2021, compared to last year.

“We are hoping that the winter season is the low point,” she said. “When we move into the spring season and summer season, the recovery will continue.”

Separately, she outlined consumer trends that emerged in the industry following the pandemic.

Travelers now pay more attention to safety and hygiene, and Trip.com is working with airlines, hotels and tour operators to ensure they take the necessary measures.

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Additionally, tourists prefer packages that offer free cancellation and want to travel with just close family members or good friends, rather than in large groups.

“Smaller tailor-made tours have enjoyed more than 50% year-over-year growth,” Sun said.

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— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

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