China's slow­ing econ­omy isn't low­er­ing tourism

The Pak Banker - - 6BUSINESS -

China's slow­ing econ­omy isn't putting the brakes on tourism. Shang­hai Dis­ney­land at­tracted al­most 1 mil­lion vis­i­tors to its pub­lic ar­eas weeks before the $5.5 bil­lion theme park of­fi­cially opens June 16.

And tourism spend­ing is likely to triple by 2020 af­ter in­dus­try in­vest­ment jumped 42 per­cent last year, the gov­ern­ment says. "The Chi­nese con­sumer is spend­ing more and more," said Shaun Rein, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of China Mar­ket Re­search in Shang­hai, adding that Walt Dis­ney Co. prob­a­bly un­der­es­ti­mates de­mand from the 330 mil­lion peo­ple es­ti­mated to live within three hours of the new park.

"Every per­son with a kid or grand­kid in China is go­ing to go to Shang­hai Dis­ney as long as it's big enough and good enough."

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping gave a nod to tourism's im­por­tance at a re­cent re­cep­tion for Walt Dis­ney Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Robert Iger at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple in Beijing, a venue more as­so­ci­ated with vis­it­ing heads of state, where he con­grat­u­lated Iger on the Magic King­dom's ar­rival. Travel is a bright spot in the slow­ing econ­omy.

It helped ser­vices ac­count for more than half of out­put last year for the first time ever, off­set­ting slower man­u­fac­tur­ing growth. Pol­icy makers plan to use de­vel­op­ment of tourism--which al­ready em­ploys al­most 28 mil­lion peo­ple--to help lift 12 mil­lion peo­ple out of poverty in the next five years.

Last year's 829 mil­lion do­mes­tic air­line pas­sen­gers were up 45 per­cent from four years ear­lier, while the 86 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional flights were a 74 per­cent jump, Min­istry of Trans­port data show. Boe­ing sees China de­mand gen­er­at­ing al­most $1 tril­lion in or­ders for 6,330 new planes over two decades as it be­comes the world's largest do­mes­tic air travel mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to an Au­gust 2015 press re­lease.

China, op­er­a­tor of the world's big­gest high-speed rail net­work, plans to stretch it even fur­ther in five years: to 30,000 kilo­me­ters from 19,000 kilo­me­ters. Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang has said rail spend­ing "kills sev­eral birds with one stone" by cush­ion­ing the econ­omy in the short-term while boost­ing longterm ef­fi­ciency.

Auto sales climbed to 21.1 mil­lion last year, dou­ble the 2009 level. The still-new cruise in­dus­try is spurring op­er­a­tors to re­lo­cate more ships to China.

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