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Beijing travel and tourism revenue plunged 53% in 2020

Beijing travel and tourism revenue plunged 53% in 2020
Beijing travel and tourism revenue plunged 53% in 2020
Written by Harry Johnson

The city of Beijing saw the momentum of travel and tourism industry halted in 2020

  • Beijing revenue from tourism dropped by over $50 billion after years of growth
  • COVID-19 hit China early and caused massive disruption in H1 of 2020
  • Tourism in China projected to completely recover within 5 years

The tourism industry was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the city of Beijing saw the momentum of the industry halted in 2020. Beijing had become an increasingly popular tourist destination prior to the pandemic with revenue from inbound tourism recorded at $5.16B in 2019. According to the latest data, Beijing’s total revenue from tourism decreased by over 53% in 2020 for a staggering loss of ¥330 billion or $50 billion.

China has long moved on from its isolationist policies and has long encouraged the mainland as a travel destination for tourists. Revenue from China’s tourism sector grew at a strong 13.8% CAGR from 2010-2019 to ¥5.7 trillion or almost $880 billion. In 2019, China was the fourth most visited country by foreign tourists with 65.7 million arrivals for the year.

Beijing is one of the leading tourist destinations in China and the city has been enjoying the growth of the tourism sector until the pandemic of 2020 hit. From 2016-2019 Beijing’s tourism revenue experienced a 5.53% CAGR, rising to a value of ¥622.7 billion in 2019. However, COVID-19 shut borders around the world, crippling global mobility and disrupting the momentum built up by Beijing’s tourism industry. Beijing’s revenue from tourism dropped over 53% in 2020 to just over ¥291.

Beijing suffered a staggering loss in revenue specifically in inbound tourism where revenue dropped from $5.16 billion in 2019 to just $480 million in 2020.

China felt the effects of COVID-19 before much of the rest of the world did. A clear example of this is in the drop in weekly Airbnb bookings from the period between January 5th to March 7th when the Coronavirus was just news to the rest of the world of what was happening in various parts of China. Beijing experienced a dizzying 96% drop in weekly AirBnB bookings compared to just 46% in Seoul and 29% in Tokyo in this time period.

The number of domestic tourists is estimated to have dropped by as much as 62% in the first half of 2020 compared to the year prior with revenues dropping by as much as 77%. By the end of the year, China had experienced a 43% drop in domestic tourists and a 52% drop in revenue from domestic tourism.

In 2019, the absolute economic contribution of tourism in China was estimated at $1.67 trillion. This fell sharply to just $745.5 billion in 2020 – a decrease of more than 55% but still the largest in Asia and the second-largest overall after the USA.

However, projections have the figure bouncing back up by over 40.5% in 2021 to $1.04 trillion. The figure is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels for the first time in 2023 when the absolute economic contribution of tourism is projected to be at $1.75 trillion.