Outbound travelers continue to surge in 2011

Updated: 2012-01-12 22:42


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BEIJING - It is estimated that the number of Chinese tourists traveling overseas surged 20 percent year-on-year to 69 million in 2011, authorities said Thursday.

Despite a slowdown in the Chinese economy, the growth rate only dipped slightly from 2010's 20.4 percent.

"China's tourism industry is in a period of strategic opportunities, as the trend of increasing resident income and demand for travel will continue," said Shao Qiwei, head of China's National Tourism Administration (NTA), in an interview with Xinhua.

The country's tourism sector saw revenues soar 20.8 percent year-on-year to 2.25 trillion yuan ($356 billion) in 2011, Shao said.

Future tourist consumption will be boosted by expanding infrastructure investment as the government views tourism as a major aspect of stimulating domestic demand, he said.

However, authorities predict a slower growth of outbound tourists in 2012, Shao said, citing the negative effects of the economic downshift and inflationary pressure on nationals' appetite for traveling.

The NTA expects 77 million Chinese to travel overseas in 2012, up 12 percent year-on-year.

Total tourism revenues will climb 14 percent annually to 2.57 trillion yuan in 2012, with 500,000 jobs created in the sector, as the NTA plans.

Meanwhile, inbound tourism will be sapped by high unemployment rates in Europe and the United States, appreciation of the Chinese currency and rising fuel prices, Shao said.

The number of inbound tourists edged up just 1 percent year-on-year to 135 million in 2011, although that still kept China as the world's third-largest inbound tourist destination, behind France and the United States. The number of inbound tourists to China is expected to increase 2 percent in 2012, Shao noted.

Shao called for better regulation of the tourist market to protect the interests of travelers and encourage tourist consumption.