BEIJING - China's tourism authorities announced on Tuesday that tourism boomed in the country during the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday with over 70 percent of trips made within the Chinese mainland.
"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.
For example, on the first day of the lunar year, which fell on February 3, Shanghai Century Park received 13,500 visitors, which is about 30 times that of the first day of the holiday last year.
Meanwhile, outbound trips increased sharply. A total of 67,500 people left Beijing for overseas trips during the holiday, which is an increase of 59.6 percent from the same period last year.
From February 2 to 9, 350 flights departed from China and arrived in Thailand, 130 of which were chartered flights to Phuket Island, Samet Island and Samui Island.
Tourism has become an important component in domestic consumption, said Dai Bin, deputy head of the China Tourism Academy. He added that short excursions and self-driving tours would be preferred by most people in the coming years.
During the holiday, self-driving tours even extended to neighboring countries such as Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. No accidents have been reported for these outbound trips.
While Chinese residents traveled overseas, many foreigners came to China to take part in the Chinese holiday.
A group of 20 tourists from Frankfurt joined Dong Jianmin's family in North China's Tianjin to celebrate New Year's Eve. The tourists learned to make stuffed dumplings and watched local festival performances with the family.
Cities in South China also attracted foreign tourists. For instance, a group of 180 Japanese tourists arrived in Shenzhen on February 4 for the Chinese New Year.
China's tourism sector grew quickly over the past five years, with revenue increasing 15 percent each year, on average, said Shao Qiwei, chairman of China's National Tourism Administration.
About 13.5 million people are working in the tourism sector and tourism-related spending is over 10 percent of total public consumption, according to Shao.
China is Asia's largest source of outbound tourists and the country ranks fourth in the number of overseas tourists it receives following France, Spain and the United States.
Shao said that in the next five years, China would look to further regulate the sector, promote green tourism and make traveling more affordable.
By 2015, the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad on holiday is expected to top 83.75 million and total revenues generated by the sector is estimated at 2.3 trillion yuan ($342.01 billion), according to Shao.