Tourist Numbers ‘Plunge during Olympics’

BEIJING ~ The number of visitors to Beijing plunged during the Olympics, Chinese state press said on Thursday.
According to the city’s tourism administration, 708,000 domestic visitors checked into rated hotels in the capital during August, down 41.7 percent on the same month last year, the Beijing Times reported.
The number of international tourists fell by 7.2 percent year-on-year with 389,000 overseas guests checking into Beijing hotels during August, it said.
The paper did not give reasons for the fall in tourism, but China’s concern over disruptions to the Games, including terrorism and anti-government protests, led to a raft of new regulations on travel to the capital.
Red tape introduced ahead of the Games made it harder for foreigners to get visas and domestic travel groups faced a series of obstacles in coming to Beijing.
Besides stepped-up checks on highways and at airports and train stations, local tour agencies were required to arrange policemen to accompany large groups of fans coming to Beijing.
Many travellers complained that such regulations swayed them to stay away during the Olympics which ran from August 8-24.
The Beijing Times said the number of Hong Kong tourists checking into the capital’s hotels in August was down by 16.4 percent, while Taiwan travellers were down by 57.3 percent from August 2007.
In the first eight months of 2008, 2.53 million overseas tourists checked into Beijing hotels, down 8.9 percent from a year ago, the paper said.
During the same period, 8.1 million domestic travellers checked into the capital’s hotels, down 3.8 percent over the first eight months of 2007, it added.

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