This is beginning to feel like a story we could write every quarter using auto-fill. In August 2013 we wrote "Pollution Causes 14 Percent Drop in Beijing Tourism." In January we wrote "Tourism Arrivals in Beijing Drop Significantly in 2013." And now, we bring you "Foreign Tourist Arrivals Down 10 Percent in Q1."

The reasons are the same: continued economic sluggishness in Europe and North America, and continued air pollution in Beijing.

These reports don't tell us exactly how many foreign travelers arrived during that period, what the breakdown of their national origin is, and whether or not business travelers are counted among these tourists. We just know that the numbers continue to decline, and that measures such as the 72-hour visa-free travel program aren't fxing the problem.

Total arrivals to China are also down, but in 2013 by only 2.5 percent, quite a bit less than Beijing by itself. We do find it a bit hard to believe that tourists are coming to China and skipping the capital.

Hopefully by the time the Q2 numbers come out in July, Beijing will have made the short list for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which would provide a much needed boost in visitor numbers. Then again, the worst tourism year in recent history was 2008, when Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics. We'll take your suggestions for improved tourism in Beijing in the Comments section below.

With regard to more permanent Beijingers, Smart Intern China have this fun article, complete with cutesy illustrations debunking the foreigner exodus myth, even if it does feel that on personal level we have been bidding more farewells than usual. Unfortunately, the piece is Shanghai-centric so whereas down south they have seen a six percent year-on-year increase in temporary residence permits it does not present the same statistics for Beijing.

At least those travelling to the capital now know which mask should work best in order to stick around.

Photo: theatlanticcities.com, smartinternchina.com


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