China Tourism Set for Number One Position

China is predicted to be the number one world tourism destination by 2010,
with inbound travellers reaching over 89 million in 2001.  With the lifting
of SARS warnings in June, China’s leading travel distribution specialist
4oceans is reporting a remarkable resurgence in interest.

China’s strengthening position in the world tourism market is being
highlighted by travel specialist 4oceans, with the latest tourism statistics
reflecting the changing attitudes to travel both to and from China.

Operating with over 1,300 hotels across China - more than any other Global
Distribution System - 4oceans is now established as China’s major travel
distribution system.  Its web-based reservations system links hotels,
travellers and agents worldwide, and with the lifting of the SARS warnings,
the company is seeing a significant rebound of interest from both business
and leisure travellers.

From a world tourism ranking of 21 in 1991, China became the 5th largest
tourism destination in the world by 2001, seeing a stronger growth rate by
far than any other country and welcoming over 89 million visitors, up from
33.3 million in 1991.

The latest statistics reflect the growth potential for the country, with
tourism boosted through a combination of developments; the opening up of
tourism by the authorities, easier booking procedures as a result of new
technology and growing awareness of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


Managing Director, David Yates, said: “China is changing the face of
its tourism offering.  Much of the red tape is being eased and where hotel
bookings used to all be handled manually with lengthy faxing, both agents
and hoteliers are increasingly taking advantage of new technology to provide
a real-time, online reservations system for visitors from around the globe.”

China’s income from tourism in 2001 reached US$17.8 billion, with the top
five most visited cities Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai and Zhuhai.

In response to the growing demand for accommodation, China’s bed stock has
also increased, with new hotels being developed.  From 1997 to 2001 the
country’s star rated hotels increased from 2,724 to 7,358, more than
doubling the number of rooms available for travellers.

The main countries visiting China include Japan, with 2.4 million visits;
Russia with 1.2 million; the USA with nearly one million; and the UK with
over 300,000 visits.  The main age group for visitors is 25-44 year olds,
with high season between April - October.

Outbound travel from China is also growing, providing an increasing revenue
stream for hotels and tourism partners around the world.  Boosted with
easier visa requirements from the Chinese authorities, outbound travel by
Chinese residents reached over 12.1 million in 2001, nearly seven million of
which were private visits.  Main destinations for Chinese travellers include
Thailand, Japan, Russia, the USA, Germany, the UK, Australia and Malaysia.

In addition, a growing number of countries have now relaxed their visa
requirements for Chinese visitors, including Japan, New Zealand, Australia,
South Africa, and Germany, creating a growing market for outbound tourism,
and supporting greater openness in travel both to and from China.

Yates added: “China has created more new millionaires in the past three
years than any other country in the world, underlining the incredible
potential that exists for the tourism industry both in and out of China.
Despite the difficulties experienced by the travel industry over the last 18
months, we are confident that China will play an increasingly important role
in world tourism.”

Related stories on ITN:

(18/08/2003) 4oceans Launches ‘Pay As You Use’ Scheme For Hoteliers

(01/08/2003) 4oceans Introduces New Agent Portal For Online Bookings

(16/07/2003) 4oceans Launches New Hotel Booking System