The tourism industry in Beijing, the worst hit city in the world by SARS, will lose around US$4.8 billion this year as visitors shun the Chinese capital, an economic research institute was quoted as saying yesterday.
The China Center for Economic Research described the effect of SARS on the city as the most dramatic prolonged shutdown of the travel industry since 1989 when pro-democracy protestors were crushed in Tiananman Square.
Overseas arrivals last month alone were down 78 percent compared to the previous year while most foreign tour groups have slashed their schedules between now and September.
There has also been little in the way of domestic tourism with an expected influx of visitors into the capital for the traditional May Day holidays not happening after the government restricted the mass movement of people to prevent the spread of SARS.
According to the Beijing Tourism Bureau, the number of tourists in the holiday period was down 95.5 percent as income slumped by 99.1 percent to just US$3 million.
The downturn forced the closure of 143 of 167 key tourist spots, the newspaper reported the bureau as saying.
Hundreds of restaurants and bars which also rely heavily on the tourist trade have had to temporarily shut their doors.