BEIJING, June 24 (UPI) -- Travel and tourism industry officials say new restrictions the Chinese government put in place in advance of the Beijing Olympics has crimped business.
Government officials acknowledged in May the restrictions were in place after foreign government officials complained of fewer visas being granted and tighter restrictions being imposed, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Qin Gang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the changes to the visa policy were temporary.
Travel analysts once forecast the Summer Games would bring 500,000 visitors and an extra $4.5 billion in revenue to Beijing. Now, however, economists are starting to doubt the city will get the kind of economic bump it desires.
Hotels in Beijing are hurting for guests, and people scheduled to travel to the Chinese capital for seminars are canceling, the Times reported. The number of foreign visitors traveling to Beijing in May dropped by 14 percent, the city's statistician said.
Richard Vuylsteke, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said security measures such as the visa restrictions, are "draconian."
"But politics and security trump economics, especially during the Olympics," Vuylsteke said. "We just hope that after the Olympics things will change."