China seeks boost from tourism

China is seeking to utilise an increase in visitor numbers to improve its global standing officials have revealed.

Some 55.7 million overseas tourists visited China and stayed for at least one night last year, up 9.5 per cent year-on-year, revealed Shao Quite, head of the China National Tourism Administration.

In total, 134 million overseas visitors visited, up six per cent year-on-year, spending US$45 billion (S$58 billion) in the country.

A record 56 million mainland tourists travelled overseas last year.

Meanwhile domestic tourists made 2.1 billion trips last year, up 11 per cent from the previous year, bringing revenue of 1.25 trillion yuan (US$244 billion), he said.

“China’s tourism has entered a new round of golden development, thanks to fast economic development, the growth of people’s incomes and further opening-up,” explained Mr Quite.

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Now China is seeking to use these impressive figures to counter negative perceptions of the Communist-led nation around the world.

“If a country has a good national image, it will attract greater numbers of overseas tourists, and public praise from a tourist is the best publicity for a country,” explained said Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information Office.

In 2009 China’s state council approved Guidelines to Accelerate the Development of the Tourism Industry which made the industry a strategic pillar of the national economy.

According to these guidelines, more effort will be made to improve tourism infrastructure and enhance training of personnel in the industry.

The government will also encourage investment in the sector from private firms and other types of enterprises.

Officials hope measures like these will combat growing concern over China’s militarily ambitions in the region, as well as a improving a reputation battered by endless product recalls, food safety scandals and ethnic unrest.