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Tourism Industry to Solve Unemployment Woes

To keep the unemployment rate within a socially tolerable range, the Chinese government has vowed to create nine million new jobs and reemploy five million laid-off workers in 2004. No easy task, but He Guangwei, general director of the National Tourism Administration, is optimistic. He believes growth in the tourism industry will continue moderately to outpace that of GDP in the next ten years.

He says the industry directly employed 6.5 million in 2003, with total employment running to some 39 million. The annual growth rate has been averaging 23 percent, and that momentum is likely to continue for some years. This would generate over 40 million more job opportunities, which means an annual increase of 70,000 people directly employed while indirect employment reaches 3.5 million. He expects a total of 78 million people to find jobs in the tourism sector by 2020.

In 2003, the central government implemented policies to support development of the service industry in order to provide more jobs. Now, job opportunities abound in sectors such as community service, catering and retail.

Vice Minister of Labor and Social Security Zhang Xiaojian says the tourism industry in China still has potential to absorb more surplus workers. As a new growth area in the national economy, it will play a bigger role in alleviating the nation’s employment pressure.

Zhang says the idea of expanding employment via tourism development has proven successful in many parts of the country. For example, men above the age of 50 and women over 40 used have difficulty finding jobs in big cities like Beijing. But now many can easily find work in hotels, restaurants or travel agencies as a result of the city’s rapid development of tourism and related infrastructure. Many tourism-related companies only hire laid-off workers and offer jobs that pay by the hour, or short-term contracts during peak seasons.

Zhang also adds that the tourism industry offers a diverse range of work, so that job-seekers with different education or employment backgrounds are likely to find suitable positions.

With improved protection of tourism resources and the tourism market regulated, governments at all levels are being encouraged to support the industry’s development. China has invested some seven billion yuan to upgrade the country’s tourism infrastructure, and will spend more on expansion and personnel training in the coming years.


(CRI July 2, 2004)

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