As the world steps up efforts to attract Chinese tourists, the Middle Kingdom is also trying to woo travelers – albeit unsuccessfully.
China received 62 million visitors in the first six months of 2014, a 2.8 percent on-year drop, data from the China Tourism Academy (CTA) showed. This downtrend began in 2011 and is likely to continue, according to CTA president Dai Bin.
Meanwhile, China ranked 45th among 140 countries in a tourism competitiveness report by the World Economic Forum last year, down 6 spots from the previous assessment in 2011.
A combination of global and domestic factors has diminished China's attractiveness as a tourist destination recently, making Beijing's aim of developing tourism into a strategic economic pillar by 2015 more difficult.
"Crowded attractions and hotels in China, especially during public holidays, as well as conflict with neighboring countries like Japan, have deterred visitors to China," Vera Wang, research analyst at Euromonitor told CNBC, noting a stronger yuan and weak global recovery were also factors.
"Air pollution problems in major cities like Beijing, also hindered the inbound tourism market," she said. International visitors to Beijing and Shanghai declined by 10 and 6 percent, respectively, last year, according to Euromonitor. Food scares and smog were cited as major deterrents.
In addition, China has failed to step up to competition from regional countries, said David Scowsill, CEO and president of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). "China competes on cultural tours with South Korea and Japan, [while Chinese] cities like Hainan also have a similar product offering with Thailand and Vietnam."