The picture is still muddled about the overall effect the Summer Olympics in Beijing will have on future travel to China. Here’s a snapshot of what tour operators, hoteliers and travel agents are saying:
“China is a huge destination for us and has been for the last two years,” says Ken Fish, president and owner of Absolute Travel. “We expect that level to continue.” Fish notes that Absolute Travel had several $100,000 Beijing bookings for the two-week Olympics period.
“The Olympics didn’t help us at all,” says Edwin Choy, general manager, GTS Globotours. “Leisure travel to China is down, and we expect it to stay down until next September.” Choy notes that many hotels in the cities around Beijing, such as Xi'an, applied for the Olympic supplement and these higher prices will extend to September 15. GTS Globotours is reporting that their overall business to Asia is down. “This has to do with the slowdown in the U.S. economy,” says Choy.
“When the Chinese government introduced new restrictions on visas, everyone took a hit,” says Pouya Jalali, director of sales international for the Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai. “Visas were reduced from 30 days to eight days, which really affected travel in the region, especially if travelers were planning to visit Hong Kong, too.” Instead of a spike in business from the Olympics, Jalali is looking forward to business returning to normal levels.
Ron Gunderson, independent travel consultant with Studio City, CA-based Willett Travel, is a seasoned veteran who has chalked up 40 years selling travel— much of it in Asia. Gunderson predicts the Summer Olympics will create a tremendous interest in China, just because of the enormous visibility the country will have on television.
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