[photopress:chinese_tourists.jpeg,full,alignright]Experts in China say that with the Olympics as a launch pad and amid a rising global fascination in all things Chinese, China is expected to replace France as the world’s top tourism destination by 2014.
Perhaps. Possibly. Maybe.
That is a long time to forecast major shifts in travel and just extrapolating the current figures is not the way to do it.
According to the China National Tourism Administration the number of foreign visitors to China went from 300,000 in 1978 to 22 million in 2006, excluding arrivals from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
If all those tourists go home with stories of low prices, good food, excellent service, superb scenery and sights than those figures will continue to increase. But as so many countries have found out, as the mass of tourists increases so the prices rise, the quality of the food and service goes down, the scenery is full of other tourists. Thus the special attraction of a destination quickly abates and the destination quickly loses its glamor.
Administration vice-president Wang Zhifa told a travel industry forum in Beijing recently, ‘China is now an attractive destination for tourists the world over.’
True. That is now. But what if in the next five years hotel prices climb and the rest of the infrastructure finds it cannot cope with the increase in numbers?
Xu Jing, the organization’s Asia-Pacific representative, said that China was on course to overtake the United States, the world’s number three tourist destination, this year in terms of foreign visitor arrivals. The Asian giant would then pass Spain, number two, by the end of the decade. With an expected boost from next year’s Beijing Olympics, and another shot in the arm supplied by the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. Xu Jing said China will overtake France by 2014.
A lot will depend on the reports tourists bring back from the Olympics. Half a million negative reports and those figures that Xu Jing quotes will never be reached.
This year alone China’s tourism industry is expected to generate $78 billion, 2.5% of GDP, a figure that could rise to $277 billion by 2017, according to the World Tourism Organization.
In Beijing, China’s top tourist draw, according to official figures revenue from the industry is growing at about 7% a year, accounting for around 8% of the city’s gross domestic product.
he broader impact of the thriving sector on the rest of the economy is huge, accounting for $440 billion dollars this year and estimated to reach up to $1.6 trillion by 2017.
It is always difficult forecasting. There is at least a possibility that those figures will not be reached as tourism becomes bogged down by the large numbers. At a guess — and this is a guess, not forecasting — the infrastructure is not yet in place to deal with such large figures. The language problem alone is enough but add to it internal transportation problems and the relative paucity of mid-priced resorts and the conclusion is that much needs to be done before China can easily attain this proclaimed potential.
Source: China Daily