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China ready to compete in next big event: Tourism

The 2008 Olympics are coming to an end, but the reflected glory of the Games that also functioned as a two-week commercial for China has tourism promoters hoping they can parlay the exposure into bookings.

"It's the expectation of most of the suppliers that all this visibility that China is getting is going to make Asia as a destination seem more knowable and more reachable than it has in the past," says John Riggin of Partner Concepts, a marketing firm that promotes travel to the region.

China already had ramped up tourism promotion efforts in anticipation of the Olympics and experienced a 10% increase last year in U.S. visitors. In the first half of this year, the numbers rose another 5%. And some U.S. tour operators are launching their 2009 marketing campaigns early to take advantage of Olympics fever.

But hosting the Games doesn't guarantee a tourism boom after the Games. A 2006 survey by the European Tour Operators Association revealed that since 1988, host nations have suffered what it called a "post-Olympic blight."

Australia's tourist totals dropped for three consecutive years after the 2000 Games even as travel to New Zealand increased. Travel to Greece hasn't kept pace with neighboring countries since the 2004 Games in Athens, a recent update to the report shows.

USA Today

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