Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What if they gave an Olympics...

And forgot to let the tourists come:
Hotels in Beijing are slashing room rates for next month's Olympics after tighter security — among other measures — dashed an expected windfall of visitors, hotels and travel industry executives said Tuesday.

....The usual pre-Olympic festive atmosphere host cities experience has not hit Beijing yet, with some hotels feeling empty and listless. In June, the number of visitors to Beijing, including overseas and domestic, declined by 19.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the Beijing Tourism Authority.

Now average room prices in three-star hotels are down to $60 per night from $100 in previous months, the China Daily newspaper said Tuesday. Four-star hotels have dropped to about $117 a night, from $220, it said.

Beijing was expecting 500,000 foreign guests for the Aug. 8-24 Olympics, but has been scaling back that estimate. Some people have been scared off by high prices, while others have had trouble getting visas.

China has ratcheted up security for the games, tightening visa rules even for foreign travelers who hold Olympics tickets. Multiple-entry visas have also been restricted, causing a drop in business travel.

The government has said the games are a target of terrorism, and has reported breaking up plots to attack the games by Islamic radicals in the western province of Xinjiang. In a show of force, China's military has stationed a ground-to-air missile battery just 300 yards from one Beijing Olympic venue.

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