I love this 1981 ad for China tours. This poor guy looks like he just returned from the Long March.
The text in this ad reads:
China has only recently begun to develop its potential as a destination for the traveller.
That’s kind of an understatement.
Back then, you could only enter the country (if you were not of Chinese ancestry) by joining a tour. The food was terrible and all tourism was state-tun. The country wasn’t equipped with the hotels and restaurants I witnessed seven years later. And even then, in 1988, the hotels and staff were mostly Soviet-inspired.
Foreigners used a special currency called FEC (foreign exchange certificates) and were encouraged to only spend it in the Friendship Stores, which only catered to foreigners.
The pinyin style of romanization hadn’t caught on in 1981, so this ad mentions places like Canton, Peking, Nanking, Yangtse, Tien An Men.
The only thing that’s true to today’s China are the tour prices–$2000 or $3000–which of course seemed like a lot more back then.