Each day, tens of thousands of Chinese tourists board buses to visit the pine forests and mock-ethnic villages of Jiuzhaigou, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Admission costs $47. For a couple of dollars more visitors can rent a bejeweled, Tibetan-inspired costume and have their pictures taken by a local.
These sightseersare fueling a boom in China’s domestic travel sector. Spurred by a mix of middle-class money, government support and interest in rediscovering China, the market is beating predictions and bucking global trends.
While the industry lost ground in Europe and the United States, China’s tourism sector posted a 9% jump in revenue 2009, thanks to domestic demand.
In 2010, total tourism revenue is expected to rise 14% according to figures released late last month in state media reports.
New York Times quoted Nancy Cockerell, a policy adviser at the World Travel and Tourism Council. “There is clearly an upward trend, a huge upward trend. For the next 10 years, China will be leading the way. For China, two billion trips is small. When they start traveling like Americans, the numbers will be phenomenal.”