BEIJING, Jan 22 (AFP): China's tourism sector earned 96 billion US dollars last year and will likely grow by 8 per cent this year as the country climbs up the ladder of top travel destinations, state media said today.
China received 120 million overseas visitors in 2005 and saw 31 million outbound travellers, the Xinhua news agency reported. Travellers from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are considered overseas visitors.
Income from domestic tourism reached 528.6 billion yuan (66 billion dollars) while earnings from international travellers surpassed 29.3 billion dollars, Xinhua cited the China National Tourism Administration as saying.
China's tourism industry has been developing rapidly in recent years, with inbound, outbound and domestic markets growing prosperously.
Shao Qiwei, director of the administration, predicted China would see 130 million inbound travellers this year, up eight per cent from the previous year, Xinhua said.
The industry is expected to grow by eight per cent a year until the end of the decade.
In 2003, China received 91 million inbound travellers, 11 million of them foreign tourists, according to the administration's figures.
However, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) offers different statistics, indicating China received a lower number of foreign tourists -- 33 million-in 2003.