"China does not need the Olympics to engage with the West or build bridges'
Published: 24 Sep 2008 "By hosting the 2008 Olympics, China grabbed the global limelight, for better and for worse," stated Roy Graff, Director of Business Development, Sportsworld.
Referring to the Olympic Games´ legacy, Graff said the cities, which have hosted the event in the past, have shown an overall decline in their visitor arrivals immediately after an Olympic event. Also, it is difficult to measure the extent to which Olympics have impacted or fuelled the growth in arrivals on a long-term basis as the studies haven´t been conclusive. Plus, the increased room capacity leads to fall in occupancy rates following an event.
He added, "Fears of overcrowding and higher prices keep some (visitors) away - as happened in Beijing. The economic impact assessments do not factor cost and income accurately. Associated costs are not transparent. And intangible benefits vary from city to city."
Graff referred to the perception about China before the commencement of the Olympic Games and also what sort of impact the event made on Beijing and the country on the whole.
Before the Olympics, he said China was considered to be:
· An extremely important business travel destination
· Powerful and dynamic economy
· Recognising cultural need to conduct business face-to-face
· Poor infrastructure
· Weak service culture
· Restrictive policies on media and information
· Negative news coverage, reluctance to share information
Commenting on the post Olympics effect on China, Graff referred to following:
· Most observers are impressed with China´s record on large scale event management and logistical achievements.
· Respect for the government in ensuring a smooth running and secure event
· Boost to service industry and growing awareness of quality.
· Opportunity for more countries to engage China.
· Nations see it as opportunity to engage with Chinese people.
Specifically on the travel distribution business, he said, "International companies are heading to China, and the Olympics are drawing even more, leading for a growing demand to improved travel service delivery. Competition among the online players will lead to better quality and professionalism. Also, increased costs will follow, and hotels/operators will turn to technology and streamlined processes to reduce distribution and operating costs."
Graff said that the overall decline in China´s travel sector will push the government to relax restrictions and liberalise faster.
In his concluding remarks, Graff pointed out that China does not need the Olympics to engage with the West or build bridges.
"The Olympics are a confirmation of the already integrated economy and global inter-dependence," he said.