The growing importance of tourism in China has been reflected by the decision to this year mark the country’s first National Tourism Day on May 19.
For locals – and for international visitors too – the direct benefit will be free entry into the country’s wealth of “public museums, memorial halls, patriotic education bases and stadiums.”
But the government is hoping the move will also help local districts plan major events to help lure tourists from both within and from outside the country.
China has invested heavily in tourism infrastructure over the past decade, opening the country up to the world and heavily promoting its attractions through the hosting of such grand-scale events as the 2008 Beijing Olympics and last year’s World Expo in Shanghai.
The Chinese government has estimated around 134 million people visited the country in 2010 while the growing local economy has resulted in more people being themselves able to take holidays. It was estimated that there were 2.1 billion “domestic trips” made in China last year – which accounted for revenue of 1.25 trillion yuan (133 billion euros).
“China has entered a period of mass tourism, so we hope to promote tourism by establishing National Tourism Day, with the aim of supporting tourist initiatives throughout the country,” Zhu Shanzhong of the China National Tourism Administration said on announcing the date.
May 19 was chosen as it is said to be the exact date that the famed Chinese writer and traveler Xu Xiake [1587-1641] started on the book Travel Notes of Xu Xiake, which charted his 30 years of travels throughout the country.
The book “to this day serves as a strong link between culture and tourism,” according to Zhu.
For updated details on China’s National Tourism Day, log on to http://en.cnta.gov.cn