By Louise Longman

CHINA specialists have been left with no option but to
take the country off sale after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned
against travel to the destination.

Operators have conceded there is little point selling
China without Beijing – the latest city to have received a travel advisory from
the FCO.

Most tours in China start from Beijing, which is home
to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

Audley Travel marketing manager Jim Millward said the
FCO’s warning would bring travel to China to a halt.

“Unless you’re a second-time visitor, leaving out
Beijing is like leaving Paris out of a tour of France,” he said. “No-one’s
going to bother if they can’t go to Beijing.”

Hayes and Jarvis managing director Chris May said:
“You can’t just leave out Beijing. It’s the starting point for every

China tour.”

Travellers are also being warned not to go to Shanxi
province in the north.

The majority of operators have taken China off sale
until May 23, following a recommendation from the Federation of Tour Operators,
and are giving customers the chance to cancel with a full refund, rebook at a
later date or change destination.

Audley Travel had 20 passengers in China, with 100 due
to travel in the next six weeks. People travelling imminently will be given a
full refund.

“No-one’s going to go to Beijing under these
circumstances,” added Millward.

Kuoni had 131 passengers in China, although none in
Hong Kong. Thomas Cook Signature had 80 clients in China, all

of whom were offered alternatives or the option of
returning to the UK.

Head of sales Manuel Mascarenhas said China was
“pretty much off sale”, with Treasures of China tours on April 26 and May 3
cancelled.