Tourism exchanges have been increasing thanks to enhanced cooperation between China and countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to the latest green book on tourism released on Jan 9.
China has become a major driving force for tourism in countries involved in the BRI in recent years, said the green book - ”China’s Tourism Development: Analysis and Forecast (2018-2019)”, published by the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The number of trips made by Chinese tourists to those countries grew from about 15.5 million in 2013 to more than 27 million in 2017, a 77 percent jump over the past five years, it said.
Mainland tourists contributed about 31 percent of the international tourism revenue in those countries in 2017, it said.
Meanwhile, China recorded 10.6 million trips made by tourists from countries involved in the BRI to China in 2017, compared with 9 million in 2013.
Of the total inbound tourism revenue China received in 2017 - $123.4 billion - those countries contributed 16.9 percent.
The green book attributed the rise in tourism exchanges partly to the relaxation of visa policies for Chinese tourists. Thirteen countries, including Brunei and Azerbaijan, have adopted visa-on-arrival or visa-free policies for Chinese tourists.
It is also partly because of the bilateral cultural and tourism cooperation that’s been established between China and those countries over the past five years, according to the report.
A spokesperson for Ctrip, a major online travel service that handled more than 10 million trips made by Chinese tourists to the countries in 2016, told China Daily that Thai-land, Singapore and Malaysia are the top three destinations among countries involved in the BRI.
Song Rui, director of the center, said that to maintain the positive momentum and further boost tourism between China and those countries, bilateral cooperation and exchange mechanisms such as “Year of Tourism” activities should be enhanced.
“Both sides should also make visa policies easier, streamline entry procedures, open more direct flights and provide more professional and people-oriented services for sightseeing and shopping to attract a larger number of tourists,” she said, adding that the infrastructure for transportation facilities, scenic spots, self-driving tour camps and digital installations also need to be improved.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 150 million trips are expected to be made by Chinese tourists to countries involved in the BRI during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period, spending $200 billion.
China is also forecast to attract at least 85 million trips from those countries, bringing in $110 billion.
Amity between people is the key to state-to-state relations, and mutual visits are essential to foster people-to-people bonds, Song said, adding that the soaring two-way tourism will better facilitate cultural exchanges and promote cooperation in a wider range of fields.