Outbound tourism from the Chinese mainland has grown at an incredible rate since 2005, far outpacing the growth of inbound tourism, a report from think tank Center for China & Globalization (CCG) and travel giant Ctrip group revealed Wednesday.
According to the report, a total of 128 million mainland tourists went abroad in 2015, a 312.9 percent increase over 2005. Yet over those same 11 years, inbound tourism only increased by 11.2 percent, an average 1 percent per year.
This has created a 30 million person "deficit" for tourism to the mainland. The growth of inbound tourism also was left behind by the 81.3 percent growth of inbound tourism to the Asia-Pacific region.
"It’s very heartingbreaking to see this situation," CCG secretary general Miao Lü told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"Tourism is a test of every aspect of a country," Miao said. "It’s the same as whether guests are willing to come to your house when you invite them over."
She said that inconvenient visa applications, poor English translations and lack of qualified public facilities such as nursing rooms and disabled bathrooms may lead to overseas tourists looking elsewhere for vacations. The strict rules in the mainland concerning foreigners may also be a problem, as they may make visitors feel like outsiders.
Wang Huiyao, founder and president of CCG, said that the mainland’s tourism woes are more a "software" problem than a "hardware" one.
Among all the issues the mainland is confronted with, visas may be the biggest. While a number of countries offer Chinese citizens multi-year travel visas to boost tourism, the mainland does not have a similar program.
"Another fact is that we have a small foreign resident population here, which means fewer friends and family members come to visit," Wang said.
"The best time was 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympic Games when everyone in Beijing was encouraged to learn English," Wang said, noting that this encouragement didn’t continue after the Games and so failed to further boost tourism.
Sun Bo, a senior vice president at Ctrip, pointed out another issue: The lack of tourism promotion for the mainland in other countries.
He noted that tourism bureaus from other countries and regions often reach out to Chinese travel agencies such as Ctrip to localize their advertisements and figure out the best means to reach Chinese customers.
Sun recommended that Chinese regional travel bureaus should learn from their overseas counterparts by reaching out to other markets. He emphasized that this is particularly important since the information about different areas in the mainland that exists overseas tends to be incomplete or outright wrong.(By Li Jingjing)
From Global Times, 2017- 7-6