Welcome to week 3. In this week, we are going to talk about China’s tourism development history. The following five areas will be covered. The development of China’s inbound tourism; the development of China’s domestic tourism; the development of China’s outbound tourism development;
the potential of tourism development domestically and internationally; China’s one Belt and one Road Initiative and its implications for the tourism development.
Now let’s have a look at the historical development of China’s inbound tourism. Since the open-door policy in 1978, China’s tourism industry has experienced five stages of development, which will be discussed one by one. Each stage has its unique social, political, and economic development background. Now let’s have a look at stage one.
The first stage of international tourism development was initiated and encouraged by Mr. Deng Xiaoping, started with a small base, but developed very quickly.
Attracted by this mysterious oriental country which had been closed to the outside world for a long period, there was a sudden influx of visitors from abroad. However, the serious shortage of necessary infrastructure, service facilities and capable personnel meant that China was unable to properly deal with so many visitors. So limits on intended visitor numbers were imposed.
In this early stage of opening the country to selected foreign visitors was perhaps indicative of the need to establish and reinforce the links with countries supportive of the People’s Republic of China. The overall approach adopted in this stage
was one of trial and error: when it is safe to open, where it can be less open, when uncertainty was experienced. No attempt was made to establish a broader visitor base, and for many potential visitors, China remained inaccessible behind a bamboo curtain join this period. Now let’s look at stage two.
In the second stage (1986-1991), tourism became incorporated into the national plan for social and economic development. The goal of National Tourism Plan in 1986-2000 was to enable China to enter the ranks of more advanced tourist receiving countries in terms of service quality and infrastructure development. Here comes stage three. Joining the third stage(1992-1998), with the increased pace of economic reform and fast economic growth, China opened its door even wider, and attracted more foreign investment than ever. Although international tourism developed steadily, the huge input and actual increase of domestic tourists far exceeded increase of international tourism demand. China’s international tourism turned from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.
The traditional long-haul market gave up its prominence to the fast expanding peripheral market. The tourism industry entered an adjustment stage to meet increased competition and explore new markets.
Perhaps for the first time, the government appreciated that to develop the potential of the country’s tourism resources, it had to attract a much wider market than only compatriots and friends. Most of the world’s main tourists generating countries were located in Western Europe and North America. There were many barriers for attracting tourists from these countries including visa and other travel restrictions, and a lack of tourist facilities of an international standard.
It would require a major change in the government’s political perspective, and substantial investment in infrastructure, training and also foreign expertise to create an international class tourism sector. Now let’s look at stage four.
The fourth stage of the development (1999-2009) survived impact of the Asia Financial Crisis. Despite global economic regression and fierce international competition, the international tourism industry in China became more mature and maintained steady growth. With the rise of China’s international reputation and the improvement of service infrastructure and quality, international tourism demand has continued to increase. The tourism industry has established itself as one of the most important industries in the national economy as well as regionally.
In 2001, international tourist arrivals to China reached 89.01 million, with 33.17 million staying overnight. A threefold increase from 1990 (Figure 1.6) and ranked 5th in the world (UNWTO 2001).
Total international tourism receipts in China in 2001 was US$18 billion, a sevenfold and twenty-six fold increase from 1990 and 1980 respectively (CNTA 1990, 2002), and ranked 5th in the world for the first time.
International tourism has become one of the largest sources of foreign exchange in the national economy. Finally, let’s look at the stage five. The stage five of the development was influenced by various factors. Foreign tourist arrivals was kept stable or slightly decreased. In 2008, because of the effects of the US financial crisis on the world economy, China’s inbound tourism was also affected, and had suffered a financial crisis as well as various emergencies.
In the years of 2008 and 2009, the number of foreign tourists from each continent had different rate of decline compared to the previous year. The total number of foreign arrivals was 126.48 million in 2009, decreasing 2.73 % from the preceding year (Figure 1.7). 2011 is the first year of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan period. Chinese government indicated turning tourism into a strategic pillar industry of the Chinese economy and a modern service industry with improved public satisfaction. In 2011, compared with 2010, China recorded 135 million of inbound tourist arrivals, increased by 1.24%, and US $ 48.5 billion in foreign exchange tourism revenue, another increase by 5.78%. In 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative was started by the Chinese government.
This means that the tourism industry moved from reactive to the development of tourism industry to more proactively initiate the development of the economy and then tourism industry. I shall further discuss the Belt and Road Initiative in the final part of my lecture.