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Concerned Citizens' Comments                      

Jacques L. St-Arnaud             

Impact of Olympics

on China's Tourism Industry

Submitted : April 12 th, 2009

The views expressed are those of the author
and are submitted without prejudice.


An Olympic Games that set a new, higher standard for entertainment and sports should have proven a god-send to China's tourism industry.


But instead we have seen a decline in the industry's fortunes.


The question of "why" is of course being debated far and wide.  Some believe that the current global financial crisis, combined with the media concentration on the Sichuan province earthquake and high prices of oil plus rising inflation are the reasons for the current malaise.


Some are even predicting that the same can be expected in 2009.   Certainly the recent feedback from the Yangtze River cruise lines (through the Three Gorges) indicate that the malaise will be here for a few more months at least.  Most of these companies are experiencing lower "traffic" than previous years (pre-2008 levels).  The situation is so serious that at least one of these companies has not even repaid its employees salaries.  Imagine working for a full season and not even being paid at the end, as "promised".  To top it off, most of these employees have either quit in frustration or been laid-off.  This part of the picture is not being discussed in the media.  Why not ?  The answer is obvious.  As in most situations, Chinese like to "keep face".


Check out these articles: "Prospects For China's Tourism Industry In 2009 (no longer available) and  "Chinese Inbound Tourism Going Low, 2009 also to Remain Weak".


Of course there are also opinions on how to resolve the situation.  How can China bring in more tourists ?  And also... what to do to bailout those in the industry who have / are suffering because of the situation ?  The previous links touch on this aspect, and you can find other articles that give more insights.


And then there are those who like to see the "silver lining in the dark cloud" that has dimmed tourism attractiveness.  It is the ones who see opportunity in chaos that reap the highest rewards.  The previous links touch on this aspect, but this short article hits the nails right on... "China's tourism: opportunities, challenges and strategies" (no longer available).


But there are other aspects to the current dilemma.


Most English speakers will remember the oft-recited phrase "shooting yourself in the foot".  I find it revealing that no mention has been made about China's central government's decision to limit the number of tourist visas issued prior to and during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  Their reasoning was that if they limit the number of foreigners coming into China then they limit the potential for a terrorist attack during the Olympics, which would make them "lose face". 


Another aspect of China's tourism industry that is receiving short thrift is the degrading infrastructure of most of the scenic destinations.  With the current global financial crisis' impact on China's economy, and resulting unemployment of literally millions of young capable people, it would seem to be a good strategy to not only fund "normal" infrastructures, but also tourist destinations' infrastructures.  Many of these clean up projects would involve only some cosmetics work to spruce up the look of the attraction.  And the worker skill levels required would be minimal to say the least.


Of course, appropriate government strategies and policies for the future success of China's tourism industry will need to involve a long-term sustainable development approach which is supported by adequate infrastructure, well-trained human resources, and an aggressive marketing plan to promote the "new" look of China's tourist attractions.


Will China's tourism industry prosper again ?




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