In China’s Hebei region, Zhou Jing, 36, a company owner, is happy that Beijing has started to soften its strict “zero-COVID” policy.

Zhou ultimately tested positive for the virus earlier this month after following careful steps to prevent COVID-19 over the previous three years as instances soared statewide.

Zhou was able to heal at home as opposed to being hospitalized like the other millions of Chinese who contracted the virus early in the pandemic.

Beijing declared earlier this month that it will “optimize” its COVID rules by letting mild cases quarantine at home, reducing lockdowns, doing away with mass testing, and removing restrictions on internal travel.

Zhou is content that she was able to deal with her sickness in the company of her loved ones and that she won’t soon have to give up doing simple tasks like going to the grocery store.

Zhou, who owns a small travel company, isn’t planning on leaving her hometown anytime soon.

Even if the borders are reopened in the upcoming weeks or months, for Zhou, foreign travel, which she conducted at least twice a year before 2020, is off the table for the foreseeable future owing to the risk of the virus.

“Although COVID-19 is now accessible everywhere, I won’t be using it because I’ll be in China with my family. In this case, the current variation [Omicron] appears to be more stable. I worry that the infection will mutate if I travel overseas.”

Zhou is not the only person who has concerns. Even if the borders reopen tomorrow, according to a study of 4,000 Chinese consumers conducted in late October by consultant Oliver Wyman, more than half of respondents indicated they planned to postpone going overseas.

The main reason given was fear of illness. People have grown warier. We thus don’t anticipate them returning immediately away, even when they are able to travel.

The tentative epidemic recovery of the global tourist industry, which has been slowed by China’s continued border closures, may be complicated by such unease. Nearly one-fourth of the world’s tourist spending, or $288 billion, was made by the people of China in 2018.

Chinese people may be keen to travel as long as the government removes its numerous barriers to entering and leaving the country.

Over half of respondents to a study conducted by Dragon Trail International, which focuses on the Chinese outbound travel market, said they would go overseas within a year of the mainland’s reopening. The survey was conducted among 1,003 mainland residents between November 7 and November 20.

Instead of concern about the virus, quarantine, stringent regulations, and annoyance were the top travel obstacles, with 60% of respondents hoping that quarantine-on-arrival will be loosened.

In 2023, Tianjin entrepreneur Lily Zhang stated that she would be prepared to fly alone overseas and conduct business with foreign clientele.

Although she admitted she is less certain she would be allowed to go with her family now that her husband has returned to Tianjin after nearly three years of being stuck in the Philippines.

Even if I obtain COVID-19 from outside, I no longer mind being affected by it. But if our kids get sick, it would be challenging since it would mean having to take on more responsibility. We want to understand the guidelines upon arrival so we can determine whether to take our family.