China is expected its outbound tourism numbers to increase by more than 25% this year. The forecasted increase comes as outbound tourism in the county remains at a relative standstill when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

State-owned media CCTV said official projections expect outbound tourism to recover further next year. Since the spread of coronavirus early last year, there has been a substantial decline in travelers from China, the world's most populous country, leaving an estimated loss of about $255 billion in the global tourism sector.

CCTV, citing research published by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's China Tourism Academy, a total of 25.62 million Chinese tourists has gone abroad since the start of the year. That figure is around 20.334 million more than the number of Chinese tourists who traveled abroad in 2020. In contrast, the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad last year was 86.9% less than the figures recorded in 2019.

The country's zero-tolerance policy for COVID-19 is severely hampering the operations of China's leisure and tourist industries, as towns with infections or worries about the virus resulted in the closure of entertainment venues, limiting tourism, or postponement of cultural events.

Last month, the national tourism administration declared that travel agencies would no longer be able to organize inter-province excursions that included provinces with areas assessed to be at higher risk of the virus, as well as the suspension of dedicated rail services connecting tourists destinations.

Many towns with local illnesses, including Beijing's capital, have shut down certain indoor recreational places, including internet cafes, chess and card parlors, and theaters, while a number of marathon events, concerts, and theatrical performances have been postponed or canceled.

From October 17 to October 31, a total of 484 domestically transmitted cases with verified symptoms were recorded, largely in China's northern region. Tourists who went across many locations were responsible for many of the infections, complicating and delaying contact-tracing attempts.

While the caseload is small in comparison to clusters outside China, and the growth in local infections in some areas has slowed or even stopped in recent days, China is putting forth every effort to reduce transmission risks, even if it means upsetting companies and local economies.

This year's forecast, which includes visits to China's special administrative areas, such as the gambling capital of Macau, is still significantly below the yearly figures of over 100 million that existed before the epidemic.

China's National Immigration Administration announced this month that it would continue to advise individuals not to go overseas for non-essential or urgent reasons.