Now let’s look at how does the Belt and Road Initiative shape the new pattern of inbound tourism in China. Right now China rank NO.4 in the world as the tourism destination behinds France,United States and Spain. And China has been struggling to maintain a consistent growth for its inbound tourism industry. If you look at the data of inbound tourism over the last 8 years, we can see that in 2012 the tourist coming to China is experiencing decline and since 2015 China started to report positive trends for inbound tourism.
And the growing enthusiasm of tourists from the Belt and Road countries to visit China will provide great support for the growth of Chinese inbound tourism, and this trend is already showing in 2017. If we look at the top 17 countries of inbound tourism market for China, Burma and Vietnam are ranked NO.1 and NO.2, and in the last few years Korea and Japan was the largest inbound tourism market for China. And we also have Russia,Malaysia,Philippines, Thailand,these Belt and Road countries as the top inbound tourism market for China. According to the annual report of the Belt and Road tourism in 2016, C-trip also reported the similar trend.
In 2016 over 3 million inbound tourists from Belt and Road countries were served by C-trip, the largest OTA in China, and this is a growth rate of more than 50%. Among the sourcing markets from the Belt and Road countries, the top ten countries include Vietnam,Russia, Malaysia,Philippines,Singapore, Thailand,Burma,Mongolia,Indonesia and India. Although the most prefer destination of inbound tourism from Belt and Road countries are Shanghai,Beijing and Xi’an. We have seen a trend of more tourists entering from the secondary cities, such as Kunming,Hangzhou,Ningbo and Nanjing.
Trip Advisor conducted a specialized consumer survey assessing travel preferences habits and interests along the Silk Road of 15 thousands respondents, its findings of the Travel Trends of the Silk Road shows that 47% of the respondents would be more likely to travel to the Silk Road if they could obtain a Silk Road visa. And 46% of respondents said they would visit the Silk Road as part of the tour. So the top tourism interest are cultural related, people want to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites experiencing the local gastronomy and attending local festivals and events.
And tourism destinations in China are making great efforts to respond to this trend. Taking Xi’an as an example, the economic development in Xi’an has been left behind because this is the inland region of China, and Xi’an is taking this opportunity to develop itself as an international cultural tourism center. They are trying to make the culture heritage alive and make it easier to be accepted by the younger generation and to better inherit and carry forward the spirits. And for Zhejiang province, effort has been made to promote Yangtze River Delta cruise tourism industry group. And Hainan province aims to deepen the national cooperation mechanism along the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road and to boost the construction of Hainan international tourism island.
Various Silk Road themed tours and products have been developed in mainland China linking Shanghai,Xi’an, Dunhuang,and western provinces of China. The Silk Road has been developed as a tourism brand to promote the tourism along Belt and Road areas. The Chinese tourism administration have announced the Silk Road International Tourism Festival and the Silk Tourism Year in 2015 and 2016, and slogan of this promotion is to Visit the Silk Road Appreciate the Beautiful China. Various management and institution has been installed to enhance the tourism development in this area. For example, China has joint the UNWTO Silk Road Program, which is the largest program and events of UNWTO to date.
China has also develop cross-border cooperation through tourism promotion, for example China,Russia,Mongolia has developed the cross-border economic cooperation agreement in order to facilitate trade, economic development and tourism.
So China’s Belt and Road Initiative is important for sustaining the growth of China’s inbound tourism and for the transformation of inbound tourism in China.