COVID-19 has left tourism hanging in the balance, and with China representing nearly a fifth of the global industry, how the country recovers has implications far and wide. A look at China’s online travel agency (OTA) market — the world’s second-biggest as at 2018* — is one way of assessing the situation. OTAs were enjoying solid growth before the outbreak, with gross merchandise value (GMV) increasing from RMB 970bn in 2018 to RMB 1.1tn in 2019. But this year, tourism has been stifled by cross-border travel restrictions, suspended business and leisure activities, and plummeting consumer confidence.
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