Tourism imbalance is affecting visitor statistics in China

Published on : Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Chinese mainland travelersThe outbound travel statistics for China are quite impressive, along with the multi-billion dollars that the Chinese travelers are spending worldwide.

However, inbound tourism in China isn’t that impressive. Visitors from outside of Asia aren’t finding China quite alluring for visit.

Nine years ago, a visit to China was on just about every travel list, spearheaded by Beijing’s hosting of the 2008 summer Olympics. But now, the country’s fortunes are showing signs of decline.

According to the China National Tourism Administration, from January to September 2015, 3.57 million Europeans and 2.3 million North Americans visited China, out of just less than 19 million foreign arrivals.

Similar to other aspects of China’s relationship with the rest of the world, the reasons for the country’s lack of appeal to many foreign tourists are complex.

To quote Jeremiah Jenne, founder and proprietor of Beijing by Foot, an educational walks company, “So much of the tourism infrastructure in someplace like Beijing (and, increasingly, around the world, although that’s another story…) is geared toward the domestic Chinese tourist. This is a big difference from other Asian cities like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, where ‘tourist’ still often means from North America, Europe, or Australia, and so the marketing, the infrastructure, the whole vibe is geared toward that particular culture of travel and expectations. But it’s more than just English-language menus and service without a scowl, it also comes down to how the city is being developed.”

One big problem for china is its language barrier. Whether as part of a group, for business travelers, or the independent visitor, China is a tough destination for many. Taxi drivers don’t speak English, and rip-offs are routine. However, now hotel infrastructure in China at almost every level is of international standard,

Then there’s the problem of pollution. China is home to a few of the world’s most polluted cities according to the World Health Organization, and Beijing and Shanghai are among them. This isn’t too positive for tourism.

Measures designed to make travel to parts of China beyond Beijing or Shanghai have been largely unsuccessful. Since 2013, Beijing has offered visa-free, 72-hour stays to passport holders from about 50 nations. However, despite having a target of 20,000 travelers per year, the program has fallen short, attracting only 14,000 its first year.


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