Tourism continued to boost the economy last year with investment and consumption rising, official data showed yesterday.
For the first time in history, tourism investment in China reached 1 trillion yuan (US$152 billion) in 2015, registering a 42 percent year-on-year growth, according to Li Jinzao, head of China National Tourism Administration.
The sharp rise comes in spite of a deceleration in investment growth in general. In the first 11 months of 2015, China’s fixed-asset investment grew 10.2 percent year on year, a decline from an annual high of 13.9 percent for the first two months.
Keen to tap this growth sector, companies that are not traditionally in tourism also began to look into opportunities.
The country’s top-three Internet giants — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — together channeled 16 billion yuan into the industry in 2015, while property and entertainment giant Dalian Wanda Group allocated over 700 billion yuan to business and cultural travel projects.
The tourism administration estimates that direct investment into tourism will surpass 3 trillion yuan in the next three years.
While investment picked up, tourism consumption was also robust in 2015. Earlier data showed that Chinese citizens made more than 4 billion domestic trips and 120 million overseas, ranking first globally.
“Tourism has become a new engine for China’s economic growth,” Li said.
The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that China’s tourism could contribute 10.1 percent to its GDP, surpassing sectors such as banking, education and automobiles.