Where are tourists staying in Beijing

Tourism: Travel to Beijing with a face mask - smog drives tourists away

Thick smog hangs over Beijing again. When traveling to Beijing, a face mask is recommended, as it is easily available in hardware stores. Tourists should make sure that the breathing mask also filters out the particularly dangerous fine dust smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5).

Pollutant levels are often between 100 and 200 micrograms, but can easily climb to 300 or more. On Thursday (January 16) the air index reached a "dangerous" 671, the highest level of this winter. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a limit value of only 25. Last winter, the pollutants even climbed to record values ​​of more than 800.

When such peak loads are reached, tourists shouldn't go outside the door of their hotel and should definitely avoid major outdoor activities. The air then smells smoky and of sulfur. Sensitive visitors complain of sore throats and burning eyes. Elderly people and children should take special care. Doctors warn that high levels of pollution weaken the immune system and make it easier for respiratory problems or heart and circulatory diseases to break out.

Basically, tourists currently have to be prepared for the fact that the Imperial Palace or the Temple of Heaven in the haze provide a rather blurry photo motif. You are only lucky if you visit the Chinese capital on windy days, when the smog has blown away - or after a downpour.

The high level of air pollution is believed to be one of the reasons for the drastic decline in tourists in Beijing last year. Between January and November, 4.2 million, 10.3 percent fewer visitors came to the capital, as tourism authorities reported this week. Other reasons given are the weak global economy and the three percent appreciation of the Chinese currency in 2013, which makes China more expensive as a travel destination.

The political tensions with Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea are likely to be another cause of the slump. The number of tourists from Japan fell the most with 44 percent last year. For comparison: 5.5 percent fewer tourists came from Germany. For the Americans it was only a drop of 1.1 percent. (dpa)