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Olympics Disappoint China Business Owners


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Of course an American paper would have a story like this... makes me wonder what if any "business" expectations the Muscovites had during their 1980 summer Games, and if they had any hopes of more tourist trade.

From the LA Times:

Olympics disappoint China business owners

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A shopkeeper waits for a sale at an antique market in Beijing. Some Chinese poured their

life savings into buying businesses or sprucing up their shops ahead of the Games, but it’s paid off for few.

Many in Beijing were counting on a tourism bonanza, but it didn't happen.

By Don Lee, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 22, 2008

Beijing

Li Qiang can't wait for the Olympics to end Sunday.

He had expected his Sichuan restaurant, a couple of miles from the Olympic village, to be packed with tourists during the Games. But it's been unusually quiet. One day this week, business was so slow that Li let two of his seven staff members go home in the middle of the lunch hour. Three others sat in the corner watching television.

"Everybody thought the Olympics would be great for business," he said. "It turned out differently."

Many owners of small restaurants, hotels and shops in Beijing are wearing long faces this summer, especially those who poured their life savings into buying businesses or sprucing up their shops ahead of the Games.

About half a million foreign visitors were expected in Beijing this month. But many businesspeople think that because of stricter visa rules and other hassles, there are no more here now than there were last August, when 420,000 visitors from abroad came to the capital. In July, Air China, the nation's flagship carrier, saw its international passenger traffic fall by 19% from a year earlier.

The number of domestic tourists has also been lower than expected. Fearing inflated prices for hotels and airline tickets, many Chinese apparently decided to watch the Games at home.

Wang Zhenghui, director of China's Hotel Assn. in Beijing, reckons that occupancy during the Olympics has been running about 50% to 60%. That's a far cry from the 70% to 80% hoteliers were expecting.

The 120 or so larger facilities designated as Olympic hotels are doing better, Wang said, as many had locked in bookings months in advance. But some of them have had to reduce their rates to fill rooms.

Apartment owners, too, had hoped to cash in on the bonanza, with some jacking rents up to five times normal levels, according to the official New China News Agency. But of more than 20,000 apartments posted for short-term rent, only 8,000 were leased during the Games, it said.

In a traditional Beijing hutong neighborhood near the centuries-old Drum Tower, a popular tourist attraction, the new owner of the Shuangsi, or Double Temple Hotel, had the Olympics in mind when he borrowed about $140,000 to buy the two-story building at the end of last year.

Even at a discounted rate of less than $20 for a single, only half of the 27 rooms are now occupied, said the 32-year-old, who would give only his surname, Li.

Li said tighter security checks on his industry were also hurting. Hotels in China have long submitted daily guest lists to local police, but until this summer, he said, it was just a formality. Now officials are going through them carefully. Not wanting any trouble, Li said, he's been turning away Chinese guests without proper ID cards. He doesn't even bother with foreigners, whose registrations get extra scrutiny.

For the Olympics, Beijing authorities have temporarily closed down many karaoke rooms and other bars and erotic entertainment places deemed unfit, along with scores of factories, construction projects and other businesses that might dirty the air or the city's image.

Many of these establishments are counting on life returning to normal after the Games.

"Otherwise it would be too inconvenient for people . . . and will largely decrease the efficiency of the city," said Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at Beijing Institute of Technology. "Actually, nowadays, many ordinary people sincerely hope that the Games could finish sooner."

Even at the Silk Street Market, notorious for its wide selection of counterfeit goods, merchants and salespeople weren't ruing the end of the Olympics.

"Business is a little better because of the Olympics but not a whole lot," said Zhang Yanjuan, a saleswoman at a shop selling fake Polo and Abercrombie & Fitch shirts, on an afternoon when the multistory mall on the city's east end was jammed with crowds of foreigners, including athletes. "Everybody said that when the Olympics come, we would make a small fortune. But everybody was wrong."

don.lee@latimes.com

Cao Jun in The Times' Shanghai Bureau contributed to this report.

Olympics disappoint China business owners

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Olympic cities often do experience a drop in foreign visitors during an Olympic year - it's the years following that cause visitor numbers to soar as a result of the exposure of the cities culture in all the corners of the world.

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There is absolutely no proof that hosting an Olympics increases tourism. Its complete foully. I remember reading a paper on the affects of the 2000 and 2002 games on their respective cities and regions, within 5 years there was no noticeable jump in tourism that could be definitively be caused by hosting the Olympics.

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I think China will have a bump in tourism because of the tourism infrastructure that is in place that wasn't there before... I mean, maybe I won't have to grunt and point as much. But really, Sydney. I love it, I want to visit but the Olympics did nothing to make me want to go more than before. The Olympic Cauldron Fountain will not make me want to spend the money more than before. And Salt Lake?! I'll go for Sundance but that was there first!

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There is absolutely no proof that hosting an Olympics increases tourism. Its complete foully. I remember reading a paper on the affects of the 2000 and 2002 games on their respective cities and regions, within 5 years there was no noticeable jump in tourism that could be definitively be caused by hosting the Olympics.

Well I did a study myself, a year ago, on the visitor numbers to previous Olympic cities. I found that travel to the hosts of the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 Games all increased well beyond that of other non-hosting cities in the same region in both business and leisure travel.

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Well I did a study myself, a year ago, on the visitor numbers to previous Olympic cities. I found that travel to the hosts of the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 Games all increased well beyond that of other non-hosting cities in the same region in both business and leisure travel.

I agree. If it is already a basically 'desirable' destination even before the Games, the Olympics would only cement the confirmation that it is an interesting city to visit after all the hubbub has died down. But if it is a borderline city, I don't think there will exactly be a beeline for it. Like, who really wants to go to Albertville, or Nagano, or Sochi?

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I agree. If it is already a basically 'desirable' destination even before the Games, the Olympics would only cement the confirmation that it is an interesting city to visit after all the hubbub has died down. But if it is a borderline city, I don't think there will exactly be a beeline for it. Like, who really wants to go to Albertville, or Nagano, or Sochi?

Skiers.

I don't know if it actually has anything to do whit Nagano 1998, but apparently Japan is becoming more and more of a popular spot for skiers. And I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens to Sochi.

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