China's tourism enters key phase of transformation: report

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/9 17:48:40

The green book of China's tourism by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) is launched in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Zhang Hongpei

Amid a slowing economic growth, China's tourism industry has entered a key phase of transformation and adjustments facing a new round of reform and opening-up, said an industry report released on Wednesday.

China's economic development has been delivering high-quality tourism, which is closely correlated with macroeconomic conditions and driven by rising fiscal revenues and disposable incomes. 

However, the industry also faces opportunities and challenges, according to a green book on the sector released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Wednesday.

In the past year, China's tourism was characterized by institutional reform that combined cultural and tourism bureaus, mutually agreeable tourism cooperation between China and countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), high-speed railway routes, and the opening and development of South China's Hainan island.

For example, trips from countries and regions along the BRI routes to China increased from 9.03 million in 2013 to 10.64 million in 2017. Chinese outbound trips to those markets rose from 15.49 million to 27.41 million in the five-year period since the BRI was proposed in 2013, with annual growth of 15.34 percent, according to the report.

Cooperation between China and those markets has continuously developed, and this has enhanced tourism facilities, in particular in such areas as tourism investment, market development and industrial support.

It is estimated that two-way trips will exceed 85 million by 2020, yielding tourism consumption worth around $110 billion.

Last year marked a turning point for China's tourism industry, the CASS report said, as the country entered the stage of slower tourism development. This stage may last 14 years based on international experience, said Jin Zhun, deputy editor-in-chief of the green book.

Jin told the Global Times on the sidelines of the report launch that in the past year, China's tourism economy weathered overall pressure even though some tourism companies' revenue growth declined year-on-year.

The upgrading of China's economic development will support the services sector and increase domestic consumption. The sector will also reap the dividends of China's infrastructure spending spree, said Jin.

In terms of domestic demand, tourism consumption has become more elastic in terms of household expenditure. Tourism spending accounted for 12.47 percent of retail sales in 2017, compared with 10.82 percent in 2013 and 6.76 percent in 1997, the report showed.

However, domestic supply cannot entirely satisfy tourist demand. For example, many Chinese middle-class tourists tend to fly abroad during long holidays. In addition, the added cultural value of tourism remains relatively low.

Du Yili, a senior analyst in the tourism industry, said at the report launch that "this is an era of demand revolution. It is not merely about driving consumption up. Medium-speed development, unlike the previous high-speed era, will help improve the quality of many tourism products in China."

Newspaper headline: Tourism enters key phase of transformation amid new round of reform, opening-up


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