Plan to attract 36m overseas tourists
( 2004-01-08 23:58) (China Daily)
China will step up efforts to revive a tourism industry hurt last year by the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
In a plan released yesterday, He Guangwei, general director of the National Tourism Administration, said the country expects a total of 36.8 million tourists from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and abroad to visit and stay over night in China this year.
The number of tourists last year was 32.7 million, a drop of 11.1 per cent from 2002.
Meanwhile, overall income from the tourism sector this year will reach 560 billion yuan (US$67.7 billion). Of that, US$20.5 billion will come from international tourists, according to the plan.
Last year, the tourism industry hit 487.4 billion yuan (US$58.9 billion), down 12.4 per cent from 2002.The US$17.3 billion from international tourists marked a 15.1 per cent decline.
According to the plan, released at a national tourism conference in Zhengzhou, in Central China's Henan Province, the number of domestic tourists will reach 880 million this year. That sector is expected to hit the 390 billion yuan (US$47 billion) mark.
Last year there were 870 million domestic tourists across the country. They contributed 344.2 billion yuan (US$41.6 billion) to the tourism sector.
He said efforts to attract tourists from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and abroad will be complemented by an expanded domestic tourist market.
For example, institutions stationed abroad are called on to develop close contacts with local tourism departments and companies and promote Chinese attractions.
And "holiday tourism'' will continuously be promoted during the three "golden weeks'' -- the Spring Festival, Labour's Day and National Day holidays. Those three holidays create about one fifth of the annual income of the tourism sector.
Last year was unusual for China's tourism sector.
In the first half of the year, panic over SARS almost paralyzed the industry by stopping foreigners from entering the country and forcing Chinese citizens to stay at home.
However, as SARS faded away in the second half of the year the sector gradually recovered.
During the National Day holidays, from October 1 to 7, there were nearly 90 million tourists, which created an income of 34.6 billion yuan (US$4.18 billion), up 11.5 per cent and 13.1 per cent over the same period in 2002.
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