The Beijing Olympics is having a mixed effect on holiday sales to China, the trade is reporting.
The event, which has been surrounded by controversy this week – amid reports of empty hotels, high levels of pollution and tight restrictions on visas – is set to kick off in the Chinese capital on August 8.
Visa requirements introduced in April mean visitors must have proof of their return flights and accommodation when making an application to enter the country.
Wendy Wu Tours managing director Laurence Hicks said the event has already overcome the near-total demise in sales following the May earthquake. With weekly sales up on last year and 2009 sales predicted to double, Hicks believes the games will have a positive effect.
He said: “You have to imagine people sitting at home watching TV and looking at all the iconic buildings to visit.”
However, Exodus trip manager for China Nick Nikolsky said the adventure specialist expects to end the year up to 20% down due to the games. He said this was largely due to price increases of up to £200 for flights to the country during the event.
Head of Cosmos Tourama David Binns said the operator expects the year to end with sales 20% down thanks to a combination of the games, the earthquake, the crackdown in Tibet as well as the visa changes.
He said: “If the Olympics go like clockwork it’ll be a positive advert, but if they don’t, we may see a static market at best.”
Expertravel director John Mason from Richmond, Surrey said the Olympics had prompted an increase in enquiries about the destination.
He is now thinking of organising a tour for clients to the country next year.