In the next decade China is likely to become the second largest travel and tourist destination in the world after the United States. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicted this trend in Beijing on Monday.
Their research contains projections for the growth of travel and tourism in China and a series of policy recommendations intended to maximize the economic potential of the tourist industry as a catalyst to create jobs.
The WTTC forecasts that consumption investment and government spending in tourism will grow 14 percent in China and total 2,770.3 billion yuan (US$353.7 billion) this year. From 2007 to 2016 the industry is forecast to grow at a rate of 8.7 percent per year. This would make China's travel and tourism industry the second fastest growing in the world.
According to the WTTC, spending by international visitors is expected to total 588.2 billion yuan (US$75.1 billion) in 2006, taking it to 7.4 percent of the country's export industry. Travel and tourism contribute 2.9 percent to the total GDP. The combined, direct and indirect spending of tourists is expected to make up 13.7 percent of the GDP in 2006.
China's travel and tourism industry is expected to account for 2.3 percent of the total employment figure in 2006. The industry currently employs 17.38 million.
The travel and tourism economy also generates "spill-over" employment associated with capital investment and government spending. This accounts for 77.6 million jobs or 10.2 percent of the total employment.
For China to realize its potential in the industry, the WTTC has made a number of recommendations to those involved in the industry.
It suggested adding two weeks to the paid vacations of Chinese workers to encourage them to travel more and at different times of the year. Unlock the potential of domestic tourism by developing more of the less-expensive hotels; improve air travel and remove barriers to growth; develop a well-balanced regulatory framework for time-share accommodation to help fuel the future growth of the industry while protecting the consumer's interests; expand English language services by ensuring travel and tourist operators offered language lessons to new employees and enhance the awareness of safety and security in the light of terrorism and in case of natural disasters by creating contingency plans.
WTTC is a forum for business leaders in the travel and tourism industry. The chief executives of some one hundred of the world's leading companies in the industry are members. The WTTC works to raise awareness of travel and tourism which it says is one of the world's largest industries employing approximately 230 million people worldwide and generating over 10 percent of the world's GDP.
(Xinhua News Agency April 25, 2006)