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CNTA predicts low growth for inbound tourists

Tourists pose for a photo on the famous Shantang ancient bridge in the scenic city of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Nov 24, 2007, while enjoying the bright sunshine during the winter months.

Tourists pose for a photo on the famous Shantang ancient bridge in the scenic city of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Nov 24, 2007, while enjoying the bright sunshine during the winter months. [China Daily]

The number of overseas visitors to the mainland this year will grow by just 1.5 percent to 132 million, the same level as in 2007, predicted the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) yesterday.

 

The fall in inbound arrivals last year to 130 million was the first in the sector since 2003, according to official statistics.

 

"All major inbound source markets, except for Hong Kong and Russia, slumped last year amid the economic downturn," CNTA chairman Shao Qiwei told an annual working conference. "The sector is facing a considerable challenge this year."

 

Similarly, the number of tourist arrivals worldwide is unlikely to grow more than 2 percent this year, if at all, said the World Tourism Organization.

 

In terms of outbound travel, Shao said about 46 million mainlanders went overseas in 2008, up 12 percent from 2007. And the sector is forecast to grow by 9 percent to 50 million in 2009, lower than previous years.

 

Many in the industry are now banking on the domestic market to get through the difficult year ahead. The number of mainland tours made by Chinese tourists this year is expected to grow year-on-year by 9 percent to 1.85 billion, the CNTA forecast.

 

(China Daily March 18, 2009)