[photopress:Tourists_swamping_China.jpg,full,alignright]The China National Tourist Office a surge in tourism and domestic travel in China will create jobs and boost consumption but, at the same time, it will pose a challenge as the country struggles to provide the necessary infrastructure.
China hosted 124 million visitors in 2006, including travelers from Hong Kong who accounted for more than half, and earned $33.5 billion from tourism.
Coming up are the 2008 Olympic Games and Expo 2010 in Shanghai.
The office believes, almost certainly correctly, that by 2015 China is set to become the world’s top tourist destination and will attract 200 million visitors a year.
That is a bit difficult to cope with so think of 4 million visitors a week. This is growth is already creating demand for hotels, transport and other tourism-related services. At the same time domestic tourism is booming and that has to be catered for as well.
One early and positive move would be to stop the three Golden Weeks when the whole of China seems to down tools to move from one place to another. Almost no other country in the world has anything like it and it puts an immeasurable strain on transport, accommodation and, indeed, business in general.
Shao Qiwei, chairman of the China National Tourism Administration, told a conference in Hong Kong, ‘We’re putting an emphasis on tourism so we can increase domestic consumption and increase living standards.’
Shao said that, while Americans travel on average seven times a year, Chinese now make only one domestic trip a year, but that would probably rise to two within a decade, or 2.6 billion trips.
He said, ‘Vacation travelling is becoming a trend. But there’s an imbalance between supply and demand. We don’t have enough trained staff and we are nowhere near able to meet demand for tourism services.’
According to Pacific Asia Travel Association growth in tourism will create more than 18 million jobs in China in the next decade. At the same time the whole tourist industry has a very long way to go in improving the product before it reaches true international standards.