China, Hong Kong tourism workforce surpasses all


NEW YORK -- The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that China's travel and tourism economy will generate more than 21 million new jobs over the next decade, surpassing that of all nations, according to James Li, president of Global Network Services for American Express.

For that reason, he said, American Express and other sponsors selected the China National Tourism Administration and the Hong Kong Tourist Association to receive the third annual World Tourism Award in recognition of the "outstanding impact of travel and tourism on generating employment growth."

The award will be presented during the World Travel Market in London on Nov. 16, Li told a press luncheon here.

In 1999, China's travel and tourism industry will generate $86.7 billion (U.S.) in economic activity, employing almost 50 million people. Tourism will account for 9% of China's overall economic activity, he said.

For Hong Kong, travel and tourism in 1999 will generate some $18.1 billion in economic activity, Li said, representing more than 11% of Hong Kong's total. Tourism will employ 220,000 people, or about 10% of Hong Kong's workforce, he said.

In spite of the recent downturn in Asian economies, Li noted, China is the sixth leading international tourist destination worldwide, with arrivals continuing to increase.

Underscoring this, Liuyin Yang, director of the China National Tourist Office in New York, said during an interview that some 680,000 Americans came to China in 1997, an increase of 9.87% compared with 1997. In January, U.S. arrivals were up by 20% vs. the same month of 1998, he said.

China will be focusing nationwide on ecotourism sites during 1999, and on the Horticultural Exhibition set for Kunming, May 1 to Oct. 31, he explained. The exhibition is expected to draw 10 million visitors, he said; 1 million will be from foreign countries.

American Express' Li also said, "The travel and tourism industry is about more than just jobs. It is also about building peace and stability in the world. American Express firmly believes that the travel and tourism industry plays a significant role in fostering better international understanding and cooperation."

Interviewed during the luncheon, Li said that Hong Kong Tourist Association officials asked American Express to expand its tour product line from the U.S. and related meetings are planned.

Aliana Ho, director of the Eastern U.S., Canada and South America for the Hong Kong Tourist Association, said during an interview that 778,000 Americans came to Hong Kong in 1998, a decrease of 3.4% compared with 1997. During 1999, Hong Kong expects tourist arrivals from the U.S. to rebound by 3% to 4%, she said.

Other sponsors of the third annual World Tourism Award are Reed Travel Exhibitions, which produces World Travel Market; the Pacific Area Travel Association and the International Herald Tribune, which recently launched Asian editions.

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