Source : China DailyChina heading for top spot in world tourism rankings
Updated: 2007-07-02 14:44 With the Olympics as a launch pad and amid a rising global fascination in all things Chinese, China is expected to replace France as the world's top tourism destination by 2014, according to experts.
From just 300,000 in 1978, the number of foreign visitors to China reached 22 million in 2006, excluding arrivals from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, according to the China National Tourism Administration.
"China is now an attractive destination for tourists the world over," administration vice-president Wang Zhifa told a travel industry forum in Beijing recently.
While tourism growth in France has been slow, China has been enjoying double-digit expansion for years, with the number of tourist arrivals doubling in the past five years alone.
As a result, China, originally expected to overtake France as the number one tourism destination in 2020, is now tipped to do so six years earlier, according to the World Tourism Organisation.
Xu Jing, the organisation's Asia-Pacific representative, said that China was on course to overtake the United States, the world's number three tourist destination, this year in terms of foreign visitor arrivals.
The Asian giant would then pass Spain, number two, by the end of the decade. With an expected boost from next year's Beijing Olympics, and another shot in the arm supplied by the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, China will overtake France by 2014, Xu said.
The Chinese capital is preparing to receive 500,000 overseas visitors during the 2008 Summer Games from August 8-24, up from 350,000 visitors in August 2006.