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Chinese travelers spur tourism growth in Asia Pacific region
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08:57, July 03, 2007

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Chinese tourists have become the driving force behind fast tourism growth in Asia and the Pacific Region, according to sources at an international conference on travel trends.

The Asia-Pac region posted a 8.6 percent rise in tourism in thefirst four months of the year, and 75 percent of in-bound international tourists came from within the region.

According to the first travel trend and research conference of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), a non-profit travel trade association, the Chinese mainland, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) were the largest sources of tourists.

John Koldowski, head of the PATA strategy and information center, said there were about 500 million in-bound tourists in theAsia-Pac region in 2006, including 30 million Chinese tourists.

The "Chinese factor" will have a big impact on tourism destinations, he said.

According to him, 710,000 Chinese tourists visited the ROK in 2005, but the number will double to 1.5 million by 2009. Chinese tourists to New Zealand totaled 87,000 in 2005, but the number will rise to 200,000 by 2009.

Countries such as Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia -- other destinations favored by Chinese tourists -- are also likely to see a fast rise in the number of Chinese tourists.

Francesco Frangiali, UNWTO secretary-general, predicted that China would become the biggest travel destination in the world, because tourism has developed rapidly in China and the middle-class population with greater purchasing power is growing fast, creating a powerful tourism consumption group.

Frangiali's prediction was echoed by Michael Yates, deputy president of PATA.

Yates cited a survey conducted by PATA of athletes and spectators coming to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, saying 90 percent of the respondents said they hoped to visit other cities than Beijing.

China now handles 125 million international tourists, plus 1.4 billion domestic tourists, every year. The number has been increasing by 5 percent a year.

In 2009, China could receive 145 million international tourists,said Yates, advising China to make efforts to limit the destructive impact of tourists on the country's natural resources.

The first travel trend and research conference of the UNWTO andPATA, which opened here on June 29 and closed on July 1, was attended by about 200 tourism specialists from 20 countries and regions including China, the United States, Australia, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.

Source: Xinhua

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