February 18, 2017

China counting on high speed rail to drive domestic tourism to about 10% of GDP

China Daily describes the case for how high speed rail is boosting economic growth in China.

Faster trains with efficient services can expand and improve the Chinese tourism industry, which saw a year-on-year growth of 15.9 percent, totaling 423.3 billion yuan ($61.78 billion) during the recently ended Spring Festival holiday week. Plus, the high-speed railway has opened up hitherto remote places to tourists, expanding business opportunities.

In 2016, the domestic tourism sector's revenue reached 3.9 trillion yuan, equivalent to more than 5 percent of the country's GDP. And in South China's Guangdong province, the tourism revenue was equivalent to nearly 15 percent of the provincial GDP.

China's economic development has always had a geographical dimension. Since the 1980s, its economic growth was led by large-scale development and opening-up of certain cities - the special economic zones in Shenzhen in the 1980s, Pudong (Shanghai) in the 1990s, and Chongqing, which was brought under direct central government administration, in the 2000s.

China's high-speed railway network will continue to expand in 2017, helping distant cities to form economic ties with their more advanced counterparts, and proximate cities to form their own economic clusters.


China’s tourism industry will emerge as an economic powerhouse contributing 10.5 per cent to the GDP by 2020, according to a report released by China national tourism administration in mid-2016. Tourists spending will rise to a colossal US$1.22 trillion from about $500 billion in just five years, it said.

While that is a huge figure, it is not unfeasible given the domestic tourism industry has grown at an average 22.4 per cent per year since 1985 when it was a mere $1.3bn, the administration said in its China Tourism Development Report, which was released at the four-day First World Conference on Tourism for Development, which will end in Beijing tomorrow.

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that China’s business travel market has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest. Chinese spending in this segment came to $291.2bn, just topping US spending of $290.2bn in 2015.

"China surpassing the United States in business travel spending marks a major inflection point and truly demonstrates the global nature of today’s economy," said Michael McCormick, the GBTA executive director.

The US is likely to fall further behind this year as Chinese business travel spend is expected to grow 10.1 per cent to $320.7bn compared with 1.9 per cent growth in the US, which will notch up $295.7bn, the GBTA said.

It predicted a 9.8 per cent growth in Chinese business travel in 2017. China business travel is dominated by domestic travel, which accounts for 95 per cent of total business travel spending.

Tourism and related sectors last year employed 79.1 million people, accounting for 10.2 per cent of the country’s total working population.





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