WTTC Summit 2011: China will be world’s largest tourism economy within five years

WTTC Summit 2011: China will be world’s largest tourism economy within five years

China has the potential to become the world’s largest tourism nation within the next five years.

In a keynote speech at the WTTC Global Travel and Tourism Conference, Zhu Shanzhong, Director General of the Chinese National Tourism Administration, said tourism has been raised to the level of a national development strategy in China.

China’s tourism revenue was the third biggest in the world, and he believed that will further advances it could become the greatest tourism nation within the next five years, Zhu.

At a roundtable discussion titled “New Global Trends” a packed round, including influential politicians and businessmen, debated a number of issues related to China, covering economic growth, infrastructure construction, the emerging middle-class, tourism investment and the exchange rate.

Last year, China’s travel and tourism industry generated total revenues of US$241.5 billion, a year-on-year increase of 21.7 percent.

In the next five years, the pace of tourism in China will be further accelerated, Shanzhong said, with tourism revenue totalling US$354 billion.

During this period, the number of airports will be increased to more than 230, and the mileage of high-speed rail track will be extended to 40,000km.

(Chen Feng, Chairman, HNA Group with Graham Cooke, President & Founder, World Travel Awards)

But organisers say they want to get government officials and industry leaders thinking about what the arrival of the Chinese and other emerging nations will mean for their national economies and the international travel business.

“We’ll ask the attendees whether they are ready to absorb that level of growth,” said WTTC President & CEO, David Scowsill. “Are governments ready with infrastructure? Are private investors ready to put the investment in, and, generally speaking, are we ready to absorb that level of growth?”

Roger Dow, of the US Travel Association, calls the conflict between the projected surge in demand and lagging infrastructure a real chicken and egg problem. “As we build this travel, which will happen, we’ll also have to take a real hard look at our infrastructure, our next generation systems for airports, and airport capacity,” he said.

Scowsill argued that it is “the developed market leaders that don’t fully understand the impact of tourism. They take it for granted in a way that we do not see in the developing world.”

The WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit took place at the Aria Resort & Convention Centre, Las Vegas, 17-19 May 2011. To find out more visit www.globaltraveltourism.com