Number of visitors to China drops

Number of visitors to China drops
Summer Palace in Beijing.

The number of foreign tourists to China is falling and creating a tourist-spending deficit, the China National Tourism Administration has said.

One of the country's most popular destinations for foreign visitors, Beijing, received 2.36 million overseas visitors in the first seven months of 2014, a decrease of 5.9 per cent year-on-year.

Chinese tourists spent US$47 billion (S$59 billion) more overseas than the amount spent by foreign visitors in China in the first six months of this year, which means China has the largest tourism trade deficit, according to a report by the China Tourism Academy.

"Governments of member units need to exploit more tourism resources such as those located in second and third tier cities for attracting more foreign visitors," said Shao Qiwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration.

Judith Heinrich, product manager from German online travel agency trip.me, agreed.

"The hot destinations in China contain more small cities like Guilin (in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region) and counties in Tibet," she said.

She said clients always had difficulty in communication due to the language barrier in China, especially in small towns.

She also noticed many Germans declined favourable offers to visit China, citing the pollution and the appreciation of the yuan as the main reasons.

Margot Jereza, manager of a travel agency in Anchorage, Alaska, said the weak global economy is another major factor affecting inbound tourism in Alaska.

"But we have confidence in Chinese tourism market because of its history and natural resources," she said.

On Thursday, the first World Tourism Cities Federation Expo opened in Beijing, attended by 240 travel agencies both from China and abroad, with the aim of boosting inbound and outbound tourism in China.

During the two-day trade fair, these travel agencies will have face-to-face talks to explore the opportunities with Chinese counterparts to expand the tourism market in China.

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