Out­bound tourism to see steady, slower rise

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By SU ZHOU suzhou@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s out­bound tourism in­dus­try is ex­pected to see slower but steady growth in the next five years.

Vis­its by Chi­nese out­bound tourists are fore­cast to reach 150 mil­lion in 2020 from 117 mil­lion in 2015, with an es­ti­mated av­er­age an­nual growth rate of 5.09 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the China Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) on Mon­day. It said that do­mes­tic vis­its by Chi­nese tourists in 2020 would reach 6.4 bil­lion; in­bound vis­its would reach 150 mil­lion; and the to­tal rev­enue of the tourism in­dus­try would soar to 7 tril­lion yuan ($1 tril­lion).

Peng Decheng, di­rec­tor of plan­ning and fi­nance for the tourism ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the tourism in­dus­try has ex­ceeded all goals set for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15). For­eign ex­change in­come for tourism in 2015 reached $113.65 bil­lion, nearly dou­ble the $58 bil­lion goal.

China’s out­bound tourism has seen explosive growth since 1998, when the an­nual growth rate of out­bound vis­its sur­passed 40 per­cent.

From 2010 to 2012, it main­tained growth of 18 to 22 per­cent. Since 2013, China has con­tin­ued to make rapid strides

in trips and over­seas con­sump­tion, but with a slower growth rate.

Li Bai­wen, a pro­fes­sor of tourism at Bei­jing Union Univer­sity, said the out­bound goal set by the ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­ser­va­tive. He ex­pected the ac­tual an­nual growth of out­bound vis­its to be higher than just 5 per­cent.

Travel agen­cies also have pos­i­tive ex­pec­ta­tions. Wang Xiaosong, CEO of Lv­mama, an on­line travel agency, said the mar­ket for out­bound tourism is still grow­ing rapidly.

“The par­ent-kid over­seas tour is in great de­mand right now. The book­ing of such tours in 2016 nearly dou­bled the num­ber in 2015,” said Wang. “The po­ten­tial for out­bound tourism is great. Less than 6 per­cent of Chi­nese have a pass­port, which means more than 94 per­cent of Chi­nese are po­ten­tial out­bound tourists.”

But Li noted that the explosive growth of more than 40 per­cent seen in the out­bound mar­ket right af­ter 1998 is un­likely amid de­pre­ci­a­tion of the yuan, in­creased fears of ter­ror­ism and con­cerns about con­ta­gious ill­nesses, though those fac­tors could con­trib­ute to China’s in­bound tourism.

“China’s tourism in­dus­try is be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated. So­cial or­der is bet­ter than in cer­tain Euro­pean coun­tries. The only is­sue is smog,” Li said. “If China would re­duce air pol­lu­tion ef­fec­tively, China would be­come a very ma­ture and at­trac­tive over­seas tourism des­ti­na­tion.”

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