China a top tourist destination by 2020
Asia is becoming the second largest tourism destination in the world, second only to Europe, said Long Yongtu, secretary general of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), at a press conference Thursday in Hangzhou, the capital city of East China's Zhejiang Province.
According to predictions of the World Tourism Organization, Long said China will be the world's largest tourist destination by the year 2020 and while playing a more and more important role in the development of the world's tourism industry.
"As a new development point in the economy, tourism has already become one of the pillar industries in China,"said Long.
Long noted that the World Tourism Conference, co-organized by BFA and the World Tourism Organization, will be held in Hangzhou on September 24, aiming to find the best way to develop Asian tourism.
About 800 senior tourism officials and current and former leaders from more than 30 countries will attend the meeting and discuss a series of problems facing Asia's tourism industries.
The conference will focus on how to enhance tourism co-operation between Asia countries, how to further regulate Asia's tourism market and provide convenience to transnational investors, and how to improve the competitive environment in Asia.
"We hope the conference will boost the development and co-operation of Asia's tourism industry," said Long, adding that the meeting is evidence of the emphasis placed by the World Tourism Organization on the bright future of Asia's tourism market.
This is the third time that the Boao Forum for Asia co-operates with the World Tourism Organization to hold the "World Tourism Conference," said Long.
The first conference was held in Guilin of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in November, 2002, and the second was in Hong Kong in July, 2003.
The BFA, which began in Boao, in China's southernmost Hainan island province, is a non-governmental and non-profit international organization.
Hangzhou was chosen by the organizers as the host city because of its beautiful scenery, Long said.
"Hangzhou will grasp this chance to learn and share with other countries the experiences in the development of tourism," said Xiang Qin, Vice-Mayor of Hangzhou.
Xiang said Hangzhou aims to become an international tourism city, like world-famous tourist resorts as Switzerland.
The fourth World Tourism Conference might be held in Xi'an, the capital city of the Northwest Shaanxi Province, as the details are still under discussion, according to Long.
So far, Long said, China has signed tourism agreements with 53 nations, Ireland in May and with the Seychelles in late April being two of the most recent.
To date, China has given 67 nations with Authorized Destination Status (ADS). The 10 new members of the European Union were automatically added to the list on May 1.
The BFA was officially established in February 2001 and the first annual conference was held in April, 2002.
More than 1,000 senior statesmen, scholars and business leaders from Asia and other parts of the world attended the two-day BFA annual conference 2004, which started on April 24 in Boao.
President Hu Jintao delivered a keynote speech at the opening session.