QINGDAO, Shandong: China is likely to replace the United States as the
world's third most popular tourism destination next year, a United Nations World
Tourism Organization (UNWTO) official said.
At present, China ranks fourth, after France, Spain and the United States.
Last year, China accounted for 5.8 percent of the global tourism market, a
growth of 0.3 percent compared with two years ago.
Twenty-nine percent of tourists who traveled to Asia and the Pacific last
year also visited China.
Xu Jing, regional representative for Asia and the Pacific of UNWTO, said the
market share percentages of China and the US last year were very close.
"I am confident China will overtake the US next year," he said at the 2007
China (Qingdao) International Olympics & Tourism Forum, which concluded on
UNWTO forecast last year that China would become the most popular destination
by the year 2020. At the beginning of this year, it revised its forecast to
2015. Xu said the forecast was revised because of the rapid development of the
country's tourism industry.
The number of overseas travelers to China has increased from 10.5 million in
1996 to 49 million in 2006. The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2010
World Expo in Shanghai, will further boost China's tourism market.
The Pacific and Asia Travel Association said inbound tourism to China will
increase by 5 percent year-on-year between 2007 and 2009.