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Beijing Sees Slow Growth in Tourism

updated: 2012-08-06

China Daily, August 4, 2012
In spite of the increasing number of tourists from abroad that Beijing received in the first half of the year, the growth is slowing down.
The capital welcomed more than 2.5 million tourists from overseas — including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan — in the first half of the year, an increase of 4.2 percent year-on-year.
However, the growth has slowed since the second quarter of the year and is expected to continue slowing down, according to the Beijing Tourism Development Committee.
"The capital will come up with more measures and policies to attract inbound tourists," Lu Yong, director of the committee, said at a meeting in Beijing on Friday.
Places of historical interest and scenic beauty have long been attractive for overseas tourists, according to the committee.
An official with the marketing office of the Badaling section of the Great Wall said that Badaling received about 320,000 overseas tourists in the first six months, up 6.7 percent over the same period of last year.
Most of the inbound tourists are from Asia, including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. Asian tourists make up 48.5 percent of all the people, a 1.9 percent year-on-year increase. Next are European tourists, accounting for 25.1 percent with a year-on-year increase of 8.4 percent, and American tourists, who account for 20.5 percent of the total, according to the committee.
However, even though inbound tourism has seen a year-on-year growth of 9.1 percent in the first quarter, the growth for the second quarter slowed to 1 percent, partly due to the slow recovery of the global economy and the budget deficit, debt and unemployment problems that are hitting many developed countries, the committee said in a report on Friday.
On the other hand, outbound tourism, thanks to the appreciation of the yuan and the promotion of foreign destinations, has outperformed its inbound counterpart, with more than 1.2 million outbound tourists in the first half of the year, a year-on-year increase of 69.2 percent, according to the committee.
The committee said that the deceleration of inbound tourism might continue until the second half of the year.
To further boost the capital's inbound tourism, the city is likely to introduce a 72-hour window to explore the city without a visa, and other policies, according to the committee.
Kajiya Yoichi, an accountant now living in his native Japan, has always wanted to come back to China, where he spent years studying in Tsinghua University, to explore the ancient city again with his family.
However, the visa is a barrier for him.
"If the 72-hour-window is implemented, I bet many potential foreign tourists like me would love to give the city a tour," said the man in his 30s. "Three days would be enough for foreigners to explore the city."
A coordination group has been set up to facilitate the implementation of the policy, said the committee.
"The policy, once implemented, is expected to attract more tourists from abroad," said Lin Song, an officer at the public security bureau's exit-entry administration.
However, details of the upcoming policy were not yet revealed.
"It has been proved that the visa waiver for transit passengers could greatly benefit local inbound tourism, as many cities worldwide have implemented similar policies," said Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy's international tourism development institute. "A tight visa will only drive away potential foreign visitors."
The committee will also carry out more market promotion abroad to attract inbound tourists and make the capital known worldwide, especially in the emerging markets of Africa and the Middle East.
It was revealed that South Korea's Jeju Island has signed a memorandum in May with the Beijing Badaling section of the Great Wall to promote tourism development.

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