China: World’s third most popular tourist destination

For the past thirty years China has been more and more open to the world as a popular tourist destination, and is now the third most popular tourist destination in the world. The number of overseas tourists was 55.98 million in 2010, and that is only in mainland China, not including Hong Kong and Macao.  China’s tourism revenue is about $185 billion. A look at the most popular destinations for tourists in China is revealing.

Some of the most popular places in China are Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guilin and many others.

According to Xinhua news agency, during the Lunar New Year holiday, tourism boomed across the country.  “According to data from bureaus of major domestic tourist destinations, during the first five days people made scores of times more trips than before,” said an official with the National Holiday Tourism Office, reported Xinhua News.

President Barack Obama tours the Great Wall of China

Xinhua news gave many examples of foreigners willing to travel to China, they gave examples of groups of foreigners who came specifically during the Lunar New Year in order to share the experience with locals. That means making and eating dumplings, watching special television programs and setting off fireworks. These are among the main major activities that characterize celebrations marking the Lunar New Year.  

Perhaps it is because many tourists from the West are now becoming increasingly interested in Eastern countries, especially as they draw more attention to this part of the world.  As China is expanding economically, it is becoming a more and more curious place for people to travel.

The Chairman of China’s National Tourism Administration, Chao Qiwei, said that the country’s tourism sector grew increasingly over the past five years, with revenue increasing 15 percent each year, on average. 

The increasing popularity of tourism in the country can be seen a major achievement of the reform policy – the opening up of China to the outside world. From 1949 to 1974, no foreign tourist was allowed into the country with the exception of special guests. But by 1978, China received about 230,000 international foreign tourists, and as of 2007, international tourist arrivals to China increased to 54.7 million.

The Great Wall in Beijing is one of the most popular destinations in China

However with Deng Xiaoping’s reform everything changed. In 1972, the President of the United States Richard Nixon came to China, and stayed in the country for a week – longer than a usual diplomatic visit to a single country will last. After some time, when China began to open-up, it really became a much more popular destination.  The expansion of tourism in the country was actually a part of Deng Xiaoping’s reform policy, since it was a means of earning foreign exchange. Hotel construction plans were made, professional tour guides trained, and many other things were done in order to increase tourism in the country.

By 1985, about 1.5 million foreigners had visited China, and nearly US$1.3 billion earned from tourism.

 As of now, according to the World Trade Organization, China will become the world’s largest tourist country by 2020.

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