Ex­change rates, ter­ror fears shap­ing travel

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By SU ZHOU in Bei­jing suzhou@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Un­cer­tain­ties such as fluctuating cur­rency ex­change rates and fear of ter­ror­ist at­tacks are in­flu­enc­ing out­bound tourists’ de­ci­sion-mak­ing, says a new report.

The de­pre­ci­a­tion of the yuan ver­sus the US dol­lar didn’t have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on tourism des­ti­na­tions such as the United States last year, ac­cord­ing to the an­nual report on China out­bound tourism de­vel­op­ment, re­leased on Thurs­day by the China Tourism Academy.

How­ever, the yuan’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion against the Ja­pa­nese yen, the Rus­sian rou­ble and the Cana­dian dol­lar have boosted quickly planned over­seas trips, it said.

“Travel to des­ti­na­tions with fa­vor­able cur­rency ex­change rates has be­come a phe­nom­e­non,” said Yang Jin­song, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional tourism at the China Tourism Academy.

“At the same time, ter­ror­ism at­tacks have caused sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pact on out­bound tourism. Thai­land, France, Turkey and Egypt have seen a drop in the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists.”

Last year, 117 mil­lion Chi­nese main­land tourists vis­ited over­seas coun­tries and re­gions. The num­ber is ex­pected to hit 133 mil­lion this year, ac­cord­ing to the China Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Con­sumers are al­ways sen­si­tive to the cur­rency ex­change rate,” said Dong Na at the Chi­nese on­line travel agency Qu­nar. “Dur­ing the summer va­ca­tion, many tourists have con­sulted about whether a trip to Europe would cost more.”

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing, tourists need to spend more for their over­seas trips if the RMB has de­pre­ci­ated against a bas­ket of cur­ren­cies. But tourists know how to choose des­ti­na­tions.”

The United King­dom has ben­e­fited. The cheaper pound and euro brought on by the Brexit ref­er­en­dum in June is an in­cen­tive for Chi­nese trav­el­ers go­ing to Bri­tain, ac­cord­ing to Qu­nar. It said its travel busi­ness to the United King­dom in­creased by 35 per­cent af­ter July, com­pared with the same pe­riod last year.

Liu Simin, vice-pres­i­dent of the tourism branch of the China So­ci­ety for Fu­tures Stud­ies, said that in the past, tourists tended to choose tourism des­ti­na­tions based on tourism re­sources, visa re­quire­ments, dis­tance and cost. How­ever, the pri­or­ity has changed in re­cent years, Liu said.

CHEN WEIHUA / CHINA DAILY

The Hard Rock Cafe on New York City’s Times Square pro­motes Union Pay in a bid to at­tract the grow­ing num­ber of Chi­nese tourists vis­it­ing the United States, in this photo taken on Thurs­day.

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