Amid a slowing economic growth, China's tourism industry has entered a key phase of transformation and adjustments facing a new round of reform and opening-up, according to a green book on the sector released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Wednesday.
In the past year, China's tourism was characterized by institutional reform that combined cultural and tourism bureaus, mutually agreeable tourism cooperation between China and countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), high-speed railway routes, and the opening and development of South China's Hainan island.
Trips from countries and regions along the BRI routes to China increased from 9.03 million in 2013 to 10.64 million in 2017. Chinese outbound trips to those markets rose from 15.49 million to 27.41 million in the five-year period since the BRI was proposed in 2013, with annual growth of 15.34%, according to the report.
It is estimated that two-way trips will exceed 85 million by 2020, yielding tourism consumption worth around $110 billion.
Last year marked a turning point for China's tourism industry, the CASS report said, as the country entered the stage of slower tourism development. This stage may last 14 years based on international experience, said Jin Zhun, deputy editor-in-chief of the green book.
The upgrading of China's economic development will support the services sector and increase domestic consumption. The sector will also reap the dividends of China's infrastructure spending spree, said Jin.
In terms of domestic demand, tourism consumption has become more elastic in terms of household expenditure. Tourism spending accounted for 12.47% of retail sales in 2017, compared with 10.82% in 2013 and 6.76% in 1997, the report showed.
However, domestic supply cannot entirely satisfy tourist demand. For example, many Chinese middle-class tourists tend to fly abroad during long holidays. In addition, the added cultural value of tourism remains relatively low.
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