Relaxed visa requirements, an excellent safety record, and a wealth of undiscovered new locations are encouraging a growing pool of international visitors to sample China’s unique culture and cuisine.
Shi Xiang, Director of the Chinese National Tourism Association (CNTA) in Germany, talked to ITB Berlin News about the many reasons why tourists are flocking to the far eastern nation. He also explained the strategies his country is putting in place to continue China’s successful transformation into a major travel destination.
In the first half of 2017, inbound tours to China reached 69.5 million, with the final total for the year expected to hit 143 million (up 3.5%). Popular destinations included Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Guilin, Chongqing, Chengdu, Kunming, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Sanya. Industry forecasts suggest that 2018 will be another good year for China.
China has been investing heavily in its tourism infrastructure, with the sector viewed as one of the economy’s biggest bright spots (it is currently 11% of the national economy). Private direct investment in the sector rose by around 20% in 2017
What else is driving this growth?
People are fascinated with the diverse culture of China, the nature highlights, ancient cities, and fast modernisation. The huge investment in the tourism infrastructure is starting to pay off and further improve the travel experience for international tourists. For example, there are more high speed railways and highways throughout the country, and better sanitary facilities for many of the high profile sites in China.
Can you tell us about any recent travel promotions that have been especially successful at drawing attention to China within an increasingly competitive market?
Last year we had our first ‘influencer and blogger’ trip that was a huge success. Twelve participants joined us on the journey to South China and were given an insider view of the country. They explored the canals and waterways of Suzhou, went for boat cruises on Hangzhou´s famous West Lake with its numerous temples, and visited the new Shanghai Tower – the second highest building in the world.
People can follow the participants in this trip on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or on our own accounts @ reiselandchina. This has been a great opportunity to share an insider view of China with a global audience. We are excited to announce that we will do a second trip this year to my home province of Sichuan.
What are the key selling points of destination China today and into the future?
China has so many di f ferent sights and attractions to offer – deserts, mountains, the ocean, beautiful bamboo forests and huge modern cities. You can visit an almost never ending variety of different and fascinating places. More and more these days, still unknown places have become the focus of foreign travellers. The Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Army (located in Xi’an) and the Yangtze River of course also still attract many international tourists
Hall 26.c / Stand 314
Photo: Shi Xiang Director, Chinese National Tourism Association