by Fons1 via FlickrChina consultant and prolific speakers Paul French checked China for signs of crisis and did not like what he saw. “China is looking increasingly stationary,” he writes in the weekly Access Asia newsletter.
So if you want to fly from Shanghai to London, it’s cheaper than ever, and if you need to get from Beijing to Shanghai, the range of 50% discounted flights is amazing, yet there’re still fewer people on the planes these days. Outbound travel by Chinese (excluding visiting Hong Kong) is down since the Olympics, and noticeably so in the last month, while overseas visitors are becoming harder to find. September’s inbound visitor stats were 6% down on the same month last year, and tourism revenues shrunk by 12%, with fewer visitors spending less money. This is especially bad news for the higher end hotel sector, which has massively overbuilt – the number of 5*+ hotels in Shanghai reporting occupancy rates well below 50% is staggering. Those foreign businessmen and women are still somewhat elusive, and anyway, who needs to visit a country you no longer source so much from, invest in or have any money to lend, and which is still making getting an expensive visa as hard as it possibly can? Dazed looking white guys in flash suits are a scarcer commodity in the bars of the Bund these days.
The central government has started to outspend the crisis mode, but first damage seems to have been done.