The Chinese tourism industry saw a revenue increase of 15.9% to 423.3 billion yuan ($61.55 billion) during the recent Lunar New Year festival, according to the China National Tourism Administration.
Driven by 344 million domestic tourist visits, the rate of growth was still slightly slower than the rise of 16.3% seen the previous year. CNTA said in a statement that trips abroad over the period increased 7% to 6.15 million outbound Chinese tourists. A total of 697,000 mainlanders also visited Hong Kong, up 3.7% from last year.
The tourist boom spread to the remotest corners of the country. The Islamic regions of Xinjiang and Ningxia saw an increase of 20% and 30% in domestic tourism, respectively. Over the week-long holiday, 1.5 million visitors entered Xinjiang alone, resulting in a shortage of home-stay beds offered by local inhabitants.
Li Hua, director of tourism at Kanas Lake said, ““I have been in the tourism business in Xinjiang for 14 years. This is the first time I encountered such a situation.”
The Tianzhu Mountain park in Anhui exceeded its maximum capacity of 36,000 tourists a day, reaching 850,000 visitors on the first day of the holiday week. In the Hunan province, Zhangiajie received such an influx of visits that the provincial tourism authority issued an urgent notice to all tourist facilities, asking them to not oversell tickets.
China’s tourism industry is an indicator of how strong consumer spending is. It is also a critical component in the country’s shift toward an increasingly services-driven economy. Xeinhua, the official news agency, stated Beijing’s goal to raise the domestic sector’s revenue from 3.9 trillion yuan to 7 trillion yuan by 2020.
According to a five-year tourism plan, investment in the tourism sector is expected to grow to 2 trillion yuan. By 2020, it is expected that the industry will contribute more than 12% of GDP.
In a separate statement, the commerce ministry reported that China’s retail and catering firms experienced sales of around 840 billion yuan over the week-long holiday, up 11.4% from the previous year.