China will rise to become the world's top tourist destination before 2020, Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced Thursday at a ceremony in Beijing.
During the ceremony, the cities of Chengdu, Hangzhou and Dalian received "Top Chinese tourist city" awards from UNWTO and the China National Tourism Administration (NTA).
According to Frangialli, China passed Italy last year to become the world's fourth most popular destination.
Further UNWTO predictions have China nudging ahead of the US to become the world's top tourist destination by 2020.
Inspired by national economic growth, new reforms and its opening up, the tourism industry has expanded at a breakneck peace.
From 1978 to 2005, the number of inbound tourists and revenues from inbound tourism increased 66-fold and 111-fold, respectively.
China's tourism industry should furthermore set a new record this year with revenue set to reach one trillion yuan, up ten percent from 2006, the NTA predicted.
China earned US$33.5 billion from tourism last year, making it the sixth highest global tourism revenue earner.
(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2007)