China's tourist numbers continue to decline
As countries around the world are hit hard by the financial crisis, China’s tourism industry is impacted with ongoing decreases, as fewer tourists are coming from the US and Europe, according to statistics.
According to the latest statistics from National Tourism Administration of China, number of times tourists entered Beijing from Jan to May is 1,507,651, a 4.4 percent drop from 2008.
The number of inbound tourists in 2008 was a minus increase of 1.40 percent year-on-year, the first minus increase since SARS in 2003.
The decrease is due to the global economic crisis and the tourism industry is expected to suffer further decline as the outlook remains gloomy following effects of the recent ethnic violence in Xinjang that saw 197 people dead.
The drop in visitor arrivals comes as international tourists continue to face high travel expenses triggered by the strong yuan which has made China become a more expensive destination to visit.
Dun Jidong Marketing Manager of China Travel Service said China’s inbound tourism companies said in the 1990s, the tourism industry saw a 20 to 30 percent increase year-on-year. But now things are different as statistics show the number of tourists decreasing year-on-year between 2.19 percent to 11.31 percent from 2007 to 2009.
“We are cooperating with foreign travel agencies, that usually give us orders quite in advance, even half a year before. But now many orders were canceled due to clients’ financial problems,” Dun said in an interview with the Global Times.
He stressed that China was not facing problems with Asian tourists because some were still visiting, and added that the number of visitors from the US and Europe who considered China as a long distance tourist destination had decreased.
However, as is shown in the statistics, the top two passenger origins with the sharpest year-on-year decline from Jan to May this year are Russia and Korea, with minus 53.28 percent and minus 32.81 percent respectively, mostly due to a drop in their currencies against the yuan.
“Though this did not force us to cut staff, we decided to do more training for our staff and do marketing. We offer special packages for those foreign travel journalists and counterparts to come visit the destinations and advertise our tourist spots,” he added.
“China abounds in tourist areas, with various places of interest. The financial crisis is temporarily preventing foreign tourists from coming here, but when the world economy becomes better, inbound tourism will surely boom,” he said.
Currently international tourists from America and Europe visiting China said they were very cautious of where to visit because of the financial crisis.
Gregg Wirtz, a 39-year-old tourist from the US who was visiting the Summer Palace on July 18, told the Global Times he was forced to visit places that were less expensive because of his constrained budget.
“It (traveling) is not cheap of course; I travel less now and I look for more affordable destinations or destinations that are closer to my home though China is not but I thought it was worth visiting,” he said.
He added that it was difficult for tourists from overseas to travel because of the weakening US dollar which he said discouraged people from exploring other countries for less than it would cost previously.
Another 40-year-old tourist Michael Blair from the UK said it was not only the financial crisis that prevented people from traveling, but the outbreak of the A (H1N1) virus which was threatening the world.
“A (H1N1) is causing the impact too, by restricting tourists where they should go,” said Blair who was also visiting the Summer Palace for the first time.
He said chose to visit Beijing because it had many tourist attractions, like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and Temple of Heaven.