Pollution blamed for drop in Beijing tourism: Xinhua
People visit the Forbidden City as heavy air pollution continues to shroud Beijing on February 26, 2014 - by Mark Ralston
The total number of foreign visitors arriving in Beijing during 2013 was 4.5 million, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Monday, citing official statistics.
The state-run China Daily reported last year that tourists had declined over the first half of 2013, the first such drop the capital -- home to world-class sights such as the Forbidden City and Great Wall -- had seen since 2008.
"Smoggy weather" contributed to the fall along with a sluggish global economy, Xinhua quoted the Beijing Tourism Society as saying.
The decline came despite a new policy allowing travellers from 45 countries to stop in the city for 72 hours visa-free, which was introduced last year.
Beijing regularly sees hazardous air pollution, and levels of particulate matter rose to almost 40 times World Health Organization (WHO) limits during a heavy bout of smog last year, which attracted worldwide attention.
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