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China aiming to attract more European tourists

By Wang Mingjie in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-11-07 01:48

China aiming to attract more European tourists

The China pavilion at the World Travel Market in London on Monday attracts the attention of visitors. China is raising its profile as a tourist destination. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

An initiative next year will be a milestone in enhancing tourism between China and the European Union, said the chief representative of the China National Tourism Administration in the UK.

China-EU Tourism Year fits well with China's aim to attract more European visitors, said Kuang Lin, who was speaking ahead of the World Travel Market, an international travel trade show running in London until Wednesday.

Kuang said China has become the fourth most popular destination country for tourists and drew around 138 million visits in 2016, a 3.5 percent rise on the previous year.

In addition to the classic tours of such favorites as Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Guilin (a city in Southern China famed for its dramatic landscape of limestone karst hills), Kuang said tourists are also now visiting such places as Shangri-La, cruising on the Yangtze River, and traveling on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

In 2016, more than 594,000 British tourists visited China, one of the largest group among European countries.

"Over the past 15 years, the market has achieved a steady growth of nearly 5 percent per year," said Li Gang, a professor of tourism economics at the University of Surrey. He said he believes the number of British tourists will continue to rise.

James Kennell, principal lecturer in tourism at the University of Greenwich,said China is still a great unknown for potential British visitors.

He suggested China's national tourism agency raise the country’s tourism profile by funding television programs, and developing greater travel trade and travel media awareness of China through public relations efforts, paid-for-content, and familiarization trips.

"Hosting large events with an international television audience and making use of celebrity endorsements is vital for a contemporary destination seeking to raise awareness in new markets," he said.

Kuang said the administration is working closely with new media to keep building the brand "Beautiful China" and to make China a more popular travel destination.

Peter Ball, a video editor from Guisborough in Northeast England, spent five days in China in 2015, during which he visited Lijiang River in the South and took a high-speed to train to Beijing, where he toured the Palace Museum, which is also known as the Forbidden City, and took a trip to the Great Wall.

"China is a massive country with lots of famous natural and historical sites to visit," he said. "It's also a nation that is changing rapidly and has an ever-increasing role to play in the world, so that's why I wanted to visit."

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