Hope you have been enjoying Uncrowded Europe, and you already got your selfie with the Mona Lisa. Next time that might be more difficult.
China has announced plans to loosen its pandemic travel restrictions beginning January 8 (no more strict quarantine requirements for arriving international visitors or returning residents). After the announcement, travel booking sites reported an immediate and dramatic surge in bookings from Chinese residents who have been itching to travel but were unable to do so for almost three years. Surprise, they had the same itch we all did (and theirs has gone unscratched a lot longer). With the Chinese government's rapid policy switch from "Zero COVID" to "Let It Rip" there's a lot of pent-up demand (there's also a lot of questions about the scope and nature of the current wave of COVID burning through China...I wish them luck and am hoping for the best, but they may be in for some dark times in the weeks ahead).
While the most popular international destinations for Chinese travelers are typically Japan, South Korea, and Thailand, anyone who has visited Europe in The Before Times knows that European destinations are also favorites. Earlier today, the French Embassy in China posted to social media, “Chinese friends, France welcomes you with open arms!”
So laissez le bon temps rouler! and party like it's 2019. However, worth noting: several countries (USA, Japan, and others) either have already announced or are considering imposing new travel restrictions on passengers arriving from China (typically mandatory COVID testing pre-departure or on arrival). Lets hope we're not going to find it necessary to revisit that part of the pandemic response.
Me, I'll be booking places that are not quite so centered in the crosshairs of mass tourism, wherever the people are coming from.