The tourism industry was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the city of Beijing saw the momentum of the industry halted in 2020.
Beijing had become an increasingly popular tourist destination prior to the pandemic with revenue from inbound tourism recorded at USD5.16 billion in 2019. According to data presented by TradingPlatforms.com, Beijing’s total revenue from tourism decreased by over 53% in 2020 for a staggering loss of CNY 330B or USD 50B.
China has long moved on from its isolationist policies and has long encouraged the mainland as a travel destination for tourists. Revenue from China’s tourism sector grew at a strong 13.8% CAGR from 2010-2019 to CNY5.7 trillion or almost USD 880B. In 2019, China was the fourth most visited country by foreign tourists with 65.7M arrivals for the year.
Beijing is one of the leading tourist destinations in China and the city has been enjoying the growth of the tourism sector until the pandemic of 2020 hit. From 2016-2019 Beijing’s tourism revenue experienced a 5.53% CAGR, rising to a value of CNY 622.7B in 2019.
However, COVID-19 shut borders around the world, crippling global mobility and disrupting the momentum built up by Beijing’s tourism industry. Beijing suffered a staggering loss in revenue specifically in inbound tourism where revenue dropped from USD 5.16B in 2019 to just USD 480M in 2020.
COVID-19 hit China early
China felt the effects of COVID-19 before much of the rest of the world did. A clear example of this is in the drop in weekly Airbnb bookings from the period between 5 January 2020 to 7 March 2020 when the Coronavirus was just news to the rest of the world of what was happening in various parts of China. Beijing experienced a dizzying 96% drop in weekly AirBnB bookings compared to just 46% in Seoul and 29% in Tokyo in this time period.
The number of domestic tourists is estimated to have dropped by as much as 62% in the first half of 2020 compared to the year prior with revenues dropping by as much as 77%. By the end of the year, China had experienced a 43% drop in domestic tourists and a 52% drop in revenue from domestic tourism.
Recovery within 5 years
In 2019, the absolute economic contribution of tourism in China was estimated at USD 1.67T. This fell sharply to just USD 745.5B in 2020 – a decrease of more than 55% but still the largest in Asia and the second-largest overall after the USA. However, projections have the figure bouncing back up by over 40.5% in 2021 to USD 1.04T. The figure is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels for the first time in 2023 when the absolute economic contribution of tourism is projected to be at USD 1.75T.
Despite the turmoil of 2020, China’s absolute economic contribution from tourism is projected to have an impressive CAGR of 20.75% from 2021-2025, reaching more than USD 2.67T by the end of the forecast period.