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City suffers slump in tourism

The occupancy rate of Shanghai hotels was currently sitting at 40 percent - a sharp decline from the same period last year, the city's tourism authorities said yesterday.


From January to October, the occupancy rate of local hotels was about 55 percent, according to the Shanghai Tourism Administrative Commission. "Once the occupancy rate is lower than 60 percent, the hotel will face a loss," said Dao Shuming, director of the commission.


"This shows that the city's tourism industry is now facing the hardest time in about 30 years," he said.


Officials said the city's tourism industry would continue to face difficulties next year due to the influence of the global financial crisis.


Tourists to China dropped this year in line with the worsening crisis in the United States, Asia and Europe.


"Tourist volume from South Korea to China dropped 78 percent this year compared to last year's figures," Dao said. "Young people in Japan who went abroad have also dropped about 40 percent this year."


Officials, however, expected a more prosperous domestic tourism market next year. The snow disaster, Lhasa turmoil and the earthquake in Sichuan had all affected the tourism market this year, they said.


The commission said it would draft plans to stimulate the travel market before the 2010 World Expo.


The plans included a new sightseeing-bus center for the Expo to be built next year. Based in Pudong New Area, the new center would provide bus tour itineraries to other cities in the Yangtze River Delta for tourists coming to the city during the Expo.


The commission said it would also move to attract more cruise ships to Shanghai next year. International exhibitions would be another important way to stimulate the market, officials said.


The commission said it would add an English and Japanese service to the city's tourism hotline 962-020 next year, along with French and German versions of the Shanghai exhibition Website.


(Shanghai Daily December 11, 2008)