BEIJING -- China's inbound tourism industry will grow by as much as
22% in 2004 as it rebounds from SARS, and by 10% a year thereafter,
according to a World Travel and Tourism Council study.
However, China must beef up its tourism infrastructure, invest
more in worker training and create more partnerships with the
private sector in order to cope with the anticipated demand, the
"China has the potential to become one of the world's great
tourism economies" in terms of inbound, outbound and domestic
travel, the report said.
But the isolation of China prior to the opening of its markets
and its entry into mainstream economic and political circles, such
as the World Trade Organization, means China will be playing
catch-up with its tourism product in the coming years, the report
"Despite its success to date (excluding the SARS period), the
[tourism] industry requires a new vision of openness, collaboration
and cooperation between the public and private sectors," the report
The WTTC report said China's tourism industry has returned to
its pre-SARS numbers but noted that the economic fallout from the
disease was devastating.
According to the report, SARS cost the industry 28 million jobs
and $7.6 billion. Overall, SARS cost the Chinese economy an
estimated $20 billion.
As for Hong Kong, tourism has been one of the fastest-growing
sectors of the economy in recent years. Last year, the number of
visitors increased by 21%. The Hong Kong Tourism Board is
forecasting a growth rate in excess of 8% this year.
To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].