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Tourists choose to move out of China after the epidemic

Tourists choose to move out of China after the epidemic

For three years of the pandemic, the borders were more or less closed, with sky-high ticket prices, long and irregular mandatory quarantines, and visa rules that allowed very few entry. Now the ride has opened again, but the visitors are not showing up.

In 2019, before the pandemic, China received 98 million foreign visitors, according to figures from China's National Immigration Administration. Last year, the number of foreign visitors was just over a third, or 35 million.

There are no figures on the number of visitors from tourists, but figures released by Chinese tourism agencies show a sharp decline: in the first half of 2019, they had 8.6 million foreign clients, and the corresponding figure in 2023 was 480 thousand – less than 6 percent.

There are no figures for the second half of 2023.

The Forbidden City too

It seems that foreign tourists have not returned, and this is noticeable when visiting tourist destinations in China, among other things.

In the Forbidden City in Beijing, SVT meets Saša Jegenerevic from Serbia, one of the few foreign visitors:

– The Forbidden City is wonderful, but it is unfortunate that the whole world does not see it. “I think they should be more open to the world,” he says.

– Maybe that's why it's called the Forbidden City?

More and more campaigns are making it more difficult for foreigners

China has changed during the epidemic, and society has become less accommodating to non-Chinese.

Chinese security authorities are running campaigns urging Chinese citizens to be wary of foreign spies, Chinese digital payment solutions have completely replaced card payments, and today many daily activities require identification via a Chinese digital platform. Western apps and platforms are largely banned.

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Sasha Gjingerevich is on a business trip with his mining company, and did not book his ticket to the Forbidden City himself. It requires that you be registered with Chinese social media and have a Chinese digital payment solution in your phone.

– Obviously not. Everything is booked through our company and we have interpreters from our company with us.