China Travel Blog
July 20, 2008 – A friend of mine is about to leave China to begin Harvard Business School in the fall. I ran into him the other night and asked him whether he would like me to organize a sendoff. His face lit up initially, but then quickly faded into a look of disappointment. He said that he would have jumped at the idea a few months ago, but many of his friends had recently left Shanghai due to visa issues. This anecdote is illustrative of the scale of this problem within the China expat community.
I think the obvious question here is whether the government really anticipated for the potentially long term negative effects to the economy during this period leading up to the Olympics. Already in Beijing, many hotels have seen dramatic decreases in capacity due to the latest restrictions (see previous blog on Visa Restrictions Threatening Olympic Tourism).
Many expect for the restrictions to be lifted after the Olympics. However, with so many expats having to leave China, one would wonder whether this experience has left a lasting negative impression on their feelings towards doing business here.
For more on the latest Visa restrictions, click here.
June 24, 2008 – There was an interesting article yesterday in the New York Times about how the recent China visa restrictions have already had significant negative effects on tourism this summer in Beijing.
Some hotels have been seeing occupancy rates dropping to as low as 20-40% as they struggle to find guests. In addition, the visa restrictions have greatly affected business travel. Many small business owners have had to cancel meetings due to issues with getting a Chinese visa.
And the situation does not seem likely to improve anytime soon, as scores of other hotels are either still under construction or set to open in the next coming months. The number of four- and five-star hotels in Beijing jumped from 64 in 2001 to 161 as of end of April this year and many hotels are still under construction in a city that now has over 5000 hotels. In addition, hotel operators feel that the Sichuan earthquake and Olympic Torch relay protests also contributed to the low occupancy rates at a time that would usually be their busy season (May-June).
Back in April of this year, the Chinese government announced new policies on the issuance of entry visas to China, specifically Business (F) and Tourist (L) visas.
This set off a panic storm among large numbers of expatriates already living and working in China whose Visas were due to expire. Many are now suddenly left with the dilemma of how to get their Chinese visas renewed. Click here to read an article on the latest changes to China Visa policies.
On a related note, earlier this month, BOCOG released the foreigner’s guide to behavior, which outlines the do’s and don’ts for foreigners as they travel to Beijing during the Olympic games. This includes foreign athletes, journalists, officials and tourists. Some of the rules highlighted from the guide include:
- Weapons (real and imitation) ammunition, explosives, counterfeit currency notes, narcotics and poisons are among the items not allowed into China.
- Overseas visitors are warned against shouting insulting slogans or displaying them on banners. Also forbidden are displays of religious, political or racial banners at sports venues.
- Detailing some other activities forbidden at cultural and sport events, the guide also warns against attacking referees or players and lighting of fireworks.
Interestingly enough, the Behavior Guide has only been published in Chinese. The Chinese version is posted at the following site: http://www.beijing2008.cn/news/official/bulletin/official/n214387789.shtml
The English translation is expected to be released shortly. We look forward to reading how to act like good foreigners!