Tourism Industry News
Disappointment for China’s tourism sector in its Olympic Year
Visits to China from abroad (including those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) declined by 2.6% in 2008 from 132 million in 2007 to 130 million, according to the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA). With the exception of its neighbours Hong Kong and Russia, with which it shares an exceptionally long border, all key markets decreased.
Figures for 2008 gathered by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) - which does not include the Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan counts in the total - show a decline of 3.1% in international visitors. The decline set in during the second quarter with a fall of 3%, increasing to -9.3% in the third quarter (the period of the Olympics), and followed by -8% in the fourth quarter. Beijing, the host city for the Olympics, received 389,000 international visitors in August - a disappointing result for the organisers who had targeted 500,000.
China’s tourism industry cites several reasons for the below-par performance: the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquakes in March, the decision to tighten up on issuing visas to international travellers in the run-up to the Olympics, the fear (real or imagined) of the high prices being charged during the Olympics, and the increasing effect of the global economic crisis. In particular, China’s main key source markets, South Korea and Japan, both contracted noticeably in the second half of 2008.