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Beijing sees 20 pct drop in inbound tourists in Jan.

Beijing saw a 19.6 percent drop in the number of tourists from outside the Chinese mainland in January, compared with the corresponding month of last year, according to figures published on Thursday.


The inbound tourist arrivals totaled 212,000 last month, according to figures announced by a joint survey team formed by the National Bureau of Statistics and Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics.


The total arrivals included 44,000 people from China's Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, up 39 percent year on year, and 168,000 from foreign countries, down 27.5 percent.


"At this time every year, more tourists from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan come because they would like to visit their mainland origins during the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday," said Liu Wuxiong, assistant president of the China International Travel Service Limited, the country's leading travel agency.


The number of travelers from the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea, three major tourist sources for Beijing, fell 6.2 percent, 45.3 percent and 49.9 percent, respectively, to 25,000, 19,000 and 20,000.


Arrivals from Asia fell 36.6 percent and those from Europe slid 23.7 percent.


Beijing's inbound tourism fell 13 percent last year.


"The persisting economic downturn and depreciation of the euro have taken their toll on inbound tourism," said Liu.


"Some tourists also have difficulties in obtaining visas because they must form a group of more than five."


The average visit last month was 4.3 days, up 0.9 from a year earlier.


(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2009)