Chinese outbound tourism has “almost come to a halt” due to fear of contracting swine flu, state media reported. Even locations where no swine flu has been reported have experienced radical declines in Chinese tourist numbers. Group tours to mainlander’s favorite destinations including Hong Kong, Japan, the US and Europe have seen the most significant reductions. “I can’t think of any destination that has escaped the slump. The decrease (in the number of tourists) is so shocking that I wouldn’t like to give any figure,” Zhang Qingzhu, marketing manager of China Comfortable Travel Services, said. A Hong Kong tourist agency reported an 80% decline in mainland visitors. Zhang says swine flu has also had an effect on domestic tourism, but tourist agencies agree that the effect is not as severe as the downturn caused by the SARS epidemic in 2003.
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