China’s tourism industry expects no slump after Olympic Games


BEIJING – Ambitious exhibitors at the Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE 2008) are promoting their products and competing for tourists, betting on a continuously booming tourism market after the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

The three-day BITE 2008 kicked off here on Thursday, coinciding with the 50-day countdown for the 2008 Games. It has attracted more than 700 tourism industry players from home and abroad, the most popular since the annual expo started in 2004.

Some industry experts have repeated that the 2008 Games would be a great opportunity for China’s tourism industry. Every player in the sector wants to share a piece of the Olympic cake and no one could afford to skip it, they said.

However, others worried about an industry slump after the Games, as had happened to some previous Olympics hosts.

A short-term industry lull right after the Games is expected, as tourists tried to avoid the travel peak from the Games, Yu Hong, an official with China Youth Travel Service, told Xinhua.

“We are optimistic about the country’s tourism industry in the post-Olympic era,” Yu said, expecting the downturn to end after September when people started to spend their saved holidays.

Olympic Games has a lasting impact on the tourism industry of the host country, and the benefits would come after the Games, said Ken Kelling, communications director of Visit London, the official visitor organisation for the host city of 2012 Olympic Games.

According to a forecast released by Visit London Thursday, the tourism industry in London is set to gain 2 billion pounds from the 2012 Games with half of the benefit delivered between 2012 and2017.

China is still unfamiliar to many foreigners and the Olympic Games would be a great chance to showcase the country’s culture and development, said Cristina Lambiase, an officer with the Italian Government Tourist Board.

The country would be more attractive to foreign tourists when they know more about it, she said.

The country is expected to become the world’s largest tourism destination by 2015. Its tourism earnings hit 1.09 trillion yuan (155.7 billion yuan) in 2007, up 22.6 percent year on year.