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China’s tourism earning expected to top US$20Bn

China Int’l Travel Mart 2002 (CITM 2002) was inaugurated in Shanghai new international expo center (SNIEC) last Thursday…

China Int’l Travel Mart 2002 (CITM 2002) was inaugurated in Shanghai new international expo center (SNIEC) last Thursday. Shen Huirong, director-general with marketing & communications dept. under China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) noted at a press conference that China, the only country that maintains a two-digit growth rate of tourism industry this year, is going all out to mold an image of world’s safest travel destination.

Over 1700 domestic agencies as well as those from 46 foreign countries and regions have participated in the mart, holding heated trade talks with more than 1300 overseas purchasers.

Though a series of terrorist incidents have occurred in the United States and the Southeast Asia since last year, China’s tourism industry is not affected. Shen Huirong said China, in light of the current international travel situation, has put forward new publicity slogans, in a bid to create an image of the world’s safest travel destination and idealist investment choice. And next year the image will be used to tap the European and American, Indian and Russian markets. In the wake of 9. 11 terrorist attack and Bali Island incident, many foreign travel agencies have transferred to China, putting more trust in this market.

In 2001, the gross income of China’s tourism industry accounted for 5.2 percent of the year’s GNP, an average annual two-digit growth rate in the past consecutive five years. Now the tourism industry has become a new growth spot of the national economy.

CNTA predicted that the foreign exchange income from tourism industry is expected to top US$20bn this year, US$ 2.2bn more that of last year, which is also estimated to reach US$60bn till 2008. The World Tourism Organization forecast recently that China is likely to become the first major travel destination and the fourth major source of tourists exporting.

At present China’s tourism industry attracts an increasing attention. Since China’s accession to the WTO, the tourism industry has been deepening its opening up. China hopes more strong foreign travel enterprises will make investments and tap the Chinese market, Shen Huirong added, and in the meantime encourages Chinese counterparts to go abroad, including an expansion of their overseas business. Thus, China has made plans for expediting reform of its tourism industry system, with an eye to conforming its operation to the WTO rules.

So far, China has approved 29 foreign countries and regions, with 19 in formal effect, to open to the Chinese citizens, and established 14 overseas tourist offices in Tokyo, Seoul, New York etc, as well as Asia tourism exchange center in Hong Kong. Now over 10 joint-funded travel agencies have been set up in tourism-developed provinces and cities such as Yunnan, Guangdong and Beijing. Among them, China’s first foreign-holding travel agency was founded on November 13, which was co-funded by China travel service head office and TUI Group (Germany).

In addition, this year large travel agencies from tourism-developed countries like the United States, Japan and Germany will be allowed to initiate joint-funded travel agencies in cities with a developed market economy and a dynamic tourism industry. If conditions are mature, pilot wholly foreign-funded travel agencies are also permitted to set up, which will mean China steps further up to its WTO commitments.

Source: People’s Daily

Theodore Koumelis
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