|China will become No.1 tourist destination country in the world in 2017, three years earlier than the forecast by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), according toa Chinese tourist official.
The WTO has predicted that China will receive 137 million overnight inbound tourists in 2020, thus becoming world's largest tourist destination.
"But the goal may be achieved in advance by three years, according to the calculation by the National Tourism Administration (NTA) based on the booming industry of tourism in China," said Zhang Jilin, deputy director of NTA's Planning, Development and Financial Department, at an investment fair for tourism held in Ningbo, a city in east China's Zhejiang Province, three days ago.
Official statistics show that China received 41.76 million overseas tourists who spent at least one night on the Chinese mainland last year, ranking fourth in the world. Tourism revenue hit 25.7 billion US dollars, ranking seventh in the world, according to a report about China's tourism investment issued by NTA in Ningbo.
The number of Chinese tourists traveling nationwide reached 1.1 billion last year, 27 percent more than the previous year.
The report also said that about 28.85 million Chinese people traveled overseas last year, making China the largest source of tourists in Asia.
"China is forging ahead toward becoming a world tourism power,"said NTA deputy director Gu Chaoxi.
Statistics show that in the first eight months of this year, the number of outbound tourists totaled 20.46 million, a year-on-year increase of 10 percent. It is estimated that the number of outbound Chinese tourists will reach 50 million by 2010.
Tourist arrivals to China from January to August came to 30.89 million, up 15 percent over last year's same period.
"To go faster, it is imperative for China to build strong links between its rich tourism resources and affluent social capital," he said.
Currently, more than 6 million people work in the tourism sector in China and and the number is expected to increase by more than 500,000 annually over the next five years, NTA statistics indicate.
It is predicted that China's investment in the tourism industry will amount to 1.9 trillion yuan (234.28 billion US dollars) by 2010 and will exceed 6 trillion yuan by 2020 (739.83 billion US dollars), Gu said.