Tian'anmen Square is a must-see for every visitor to Beijing, but the number of overseas tourists to the capital declined this year, the city's tourism authority says. (China Daily/Wen Bao)
Several cities in northern China formed an alliance on Tuesday to cope with declining inbound tourism across the country. The alliance, comprising major travel agencies and 19 popular tourism destinations — including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Kunming — will work together to analyze trends in inbound tourism to combat the recent decline.
The group is also aiming to create more innovative tour packages for foreign tourists, according to the Beijing Tourism Development Committee.
The National Tourism Administration said in a recent report that visits to China by overseas tourists declined during the third quarter. In contrast, the number of Chinese tourists on outbound overseas trips has grown.
Travel agencies across the nation received more than 6.2 million overseas visitors during the third quarter, a year-on-year decrease of nearly 9 percent.
According to figures from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics, the capital attracted 2.14 million overseas tourists during the first half of the year, a 14.3 percent drop from the same period last year.
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said inbound tourism has been declining over the past few years across the nation because of the appreciation in the Chinese currency, a weakened global economy and visa inconveniences for foreigners.
"No one wants to spend a vacation in a standard room in Sanya when they can afford a room with a view of the ocean in Langkawi," he said.
The smog in China has also held back potential visitors, he said.
"Nowadays more tourists prefer a relaxed holiday, rather than an exploration, and the beaches and sunshine offered by the island countries in Southeast Asia are proving more competitive," he added.
Han Yufeng, an official with the China International Travel Service Co, said travel agencies should come up with unified standards of service.
"Some agencies with poor customer service have given visitors a poor impression," he said.
Han also said the government should further invest in the promotion of the country to attract more visitors.
Beijing Tourism Development Committee said it will expand investment in the promotion and study of inbound tourism. Yu Debin, deputy director of the committee, said the government is considering providing financial incentives to local tourism agencies.