Inbound Tourism Improved By 1.2 Percent In 2018, Chinese Ministry Says

China travel
Travellers head for their train at Beijing Railway Station during the annual Spring Festival travel rush ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, China, January 31, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Tuesday that inbound tourism in the country steadily improved by 1.2 percent in 2018 as 141 million travelers visited the world's second-largest economy.

According to Xinhua, the Ministry said inbound tourists delivered $127.1 billion to China's tourism sector. These figures are 3 percent up compared to 2017, giving travel-related businesses hope for more growth in 2019.

Ministry officials explained that cultural and tourism consumption changed the sector's growth levels as more travelers and Chinese residents alike increased demands. This demand increase resulted in growth in culture and entertainment, as well as education.

Aside from inbound tourism growing as a whole, some specific industries new to the Chinese market saw a boost in the past year. Ministry reports indicated that homestay accommodation has become a booming trend in the country.

In a separate report by the outlet, the number of host families increased to 200,000 before the beginning of 2018. The report noted that most tourist homestay services are found in the southern cities of Guangdong and Guangxi. In the east, Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, and Anhui residents also recorded a large number of host families. In southwest China, homestays are found in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces.

The ministry cited the following as reasons why inbound tourism in China progressed: sightseeing, leisure and cultural activities, and parent-child interaction programs. These are considered as the driving factors for tourism growth in the country.

Earlier this month, the Center of China and Globalization (CCG) and Ctrip collaborated to come up with a report that seeks to appeal to the Chinese government for improvements in the country's visa policy to further boost inbound tourism.

According to a report by state-authorized outlet, the study recommended an online self-service platform that will allow for easier visa application. This platform will not improve inbound tourist experience but will also reduce overseas labor costs.

China continues to improve the experience of travelers who want to have a feel of the Asian hotspot. It offers visa-on-arrival or visa-free access to 74 destinations in the country and has established visa-free travel deals with 14 countries across the globe.

With the proposal to have additional visa options for inbound tourists, China can highlight its dominance in the technological domain, Li Qing, a CCG researcher said. "With the application of information technologies such as big data and biometric identification, it is very likely that paper-based passports and related documents will become obsolete," Qing explained.

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