Originally expected to overtake France as the number one tourism destination in 2020, China is now tipped to do so six years earlier in 2014, according to the World Tourism Organisation. A story released today by our favourite English paper attributed this to the Olympic rush and “a rising global fascination in all things Chinese”. It also included some staggering statistics from the China National Tourism Administration:
From just 300,000 in 1978, the number of foreign visitors to China reached 22 million in 2006, excluding arrivals from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
Well it appears China is not just a beneficiary in this whole cycle of things as Chinese tourists have become a key driving force behind fast tourism growth in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the first travel trend and research conference of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA):
John Koldowski, head of the PATA strategy and information center, said there were about 500 million in-bound tourists in the Asia-Pac region in 2006, including 30 million Chinese tourists. The “Chinese factor” will have a big impact on tourism destinations, he said. According to him, 710,000 Chinese tourists visited the Republic of Korea in 2005, but the number will double to 1.5 million by 2009. Chinese tourists to New Zealand totaled 87,000 in 2005, but the number will rise to 200,000 by 2009.
Rosy statistics aside, Shanghaiist thinks that with increasing interconnectivity between China and the global economy on more and more fronts, any blip in the Chinese economy could have devastating results on the rest of the world. Whether we like it or not, we will begin to see more and more instances that support the idea — “When China sneezes, the world catches a cold”.
Image from China Daily.