The third China Forest Tourism Expo will be held in the city of Anshan, northeastern Liaoning Province, from May 26 to June 2, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) announced on Tuesday.
The expo is designed to boost the growth of forest tourism, a rising force in China's tourism industry, as well as to improve the general public's awareness of forest protection, said Gu Chunli, mayor of Anshan, at a press conference in Beijing.
Gu said the eight-day event will include a series of activities, such as a large exhibition on the national forest scenery resources, a forest tourism investment fair and a forum on the construction of forest parks and the development of forest tourism.
Forest tourism in China, mainly relying on forest parks, has developed rapidly in recent years with more than 1,900 forest parks built by the end of 2005, said Zhu Lieke, SFA's deputy director.
In 2005 alone, the parks received more than 180 million tourists, bringing a direct income of 8.5 billion yuan (1.06 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 30 percent over the previous year, said Zhu.
"The future of the industry will be even more promising as the annual forest tourist volume is expected to exceed 400 million by 2010, accounting for nearly one third of the total domestic tourists," said Zhu.
The development of forest tourism has also helped more rural residents, especially forest farmers, to shake off poverty.
The forest tourism industry provided nearly 4 million jobs and the complex production value of China's forest parks was more than 80 billion yuan (10 billion U. S. dollars) in 2005, said Zhu.
Zhu said China would build more forest parks in the next five years and the total number of forest parks would be around 2,800 by 2010.
In addition, SFA would also strengthen supervision and management of forest parks.
"The development of forest tourism should always be carried out under the premise of not damaging the natural environment," said Zhu.
The China Forest Tourism Expo is held every two years. The first and the second expo were held in Lin'an of eastern Zhejiang Province and Baoji, northwestern Shaanxi Province respectively.
Anshan, the third largest city of Liaoning with a population of more 3.47 million, boasts a rich tourism resource with 48 percent of its area covered by forest.