Tourism in China is a rapid growing industry that is becoming a significant part of the Chinese economy. The rate of tourism has greatly expanded over the last couple decades since the beginning the reform and opening. China has become one of the world’s most-watched and busiest inbound and outbound tourist markets.
In this article you will find the latest facts and figures describing China tourism statistics in 2019.
The emergence of an affluent middle class and an easing of movement restrictions for locals and foreign visitors are both supporting this travel boom.
According to statista.com, it was estimated that the number of domestic trips in China would increase to about 2.38 billion trips by 2020, indicating an increase of over 50 percent compared to the number of trips made within China ten years ago.
The total revenue of Chinese travel and tourism industry amounted to 3.94 trillion yuan as of 2016, up 15.2 percent compared to the previous year.
Facts & Figures | China Tourism
China tourism statistics can be broken out into two different categories:
- China inbound tourism: Foreign tourists coming into China.
- China outbound tourism: Chinese tourists traveling around the world.
Let’s looks at facts and figures based on these two categories.
China Inbound Tourism Statistics
Among global destinations, China ranks in the top 10 in terms of total inbound tourists. The following ranking by Forbes lists China at #4.
- France: 86.9 million
- Spain: 81.8 million
- United States: 75.9 million
- China: 60.7 million
- Italy: 58.3 million
- Mexico: 39.3 million
- United Kingdom: 37.7 million
- Turkey: 37.6 million
- Germany: 37.5 million
- Thailand: 35.4 million
China’s inbound tourism has been slowly growing over the years, as you can see in this graph by TravelChinaGuide.
In 2019, this China inbound tourism totaled US$127.3 billion dollars in revenue.
Of course, this only represents 2.5% of revenue generated from China tourism. This doesn’t take into account China outbound tourism as well as domestic tourism.
China Outbound Tourism Statistics
When it comes to outbound tourism, China leads the way in terms of total spending worldwide. The previous Forbes article lists the following:
- China: $257.7 billion
- United States: $135 billion
- Germany: $89.1 billion
- United Kingdom: $71.4 billion
- France: $41.4 billion
- Australia: $34.2 billion
- Canada: $31.8 billion
- Russian Federation: $31.1 billion
- Republic of Korea: $30.6 billion
- Italy: $27.7 billion
China outbound tourism already outspends the rest of the world, but it is projected to continue to grow for the next few years as you can see in this graph by China Internet Watch.
What’s more telling is how much this outbound and domestic tourism adds in total revenue.
There’s a reason why China is more focused on domestic tourism than foreign tourism…
…because domestic tourists contribute more than 13% of all revenue compared to only 2.5% for foreign tourism.
Most Popular Cities & Attractions
China covers an area of 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7M sq mi) and has a rich history of over 5,000 years. While traveling to China, you will find hundreds of famous historical and cultural sites, but these are the top cities to visit while in China.
Beijing is the best place to visit if you love learning about history; specifically the Chinese history during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1912) dynasties.
Located in Beijing, The Forbidden City holds stories of 24 emperors who stayed there during the Ming and Qing dynasties. You can visit the palaces where they lived and worked.
You can’t go to Beijing without paying a visit to the world’s longest wall — the Great Wall of China, a symbol of the Chinese nation. Learn about its structure – the walls, the fortresses – and why it was built.
If you want to know more about China’s ancient history, such as the Zhou (1045–221 BC), Han (206 BC – 220 AD), or Qin (221–206 BC) dynasties, then definitely go to Xi’an. Serving as the capital city of 13 dynasties, Xi’an is the oldest of China’s Four Great Ancient Capitals. It is often called the birthplace of Chinese civilization.
As the eastern terminal of the Silk Road and the site of the famous Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty, the city has won a reputation all over the world. More than 3,000 years of history including over 1,100 years as the capital city of ancient dynasties, have endowed the city with an amazing historical heritage.
Luoyang and Xi’an alternated as capital city in the 1,500 years from the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC). During 13 dynasties, 105 emperors set their capitals in Luoyang.
You can visit the Longmen Grottoes, which hold over 100,000 Buddhist images and statues. Visit Luoyang Ancient Tombs Museum, which is one of the largest museums of ancient tombs in China and the first one in the world. You can learn about the characteristics of typical tombs in Luoyang over a period of 3,000 years.
Continued Tourism Growth in China
In 2018, the comprehensive contribution of tourism to China’s GDP was 9.94 trillion yuan, accounting for 11.04% of the total GDP. The number of inbound tourists reached 141.2 million, an increase of 1.2% over the same period the previous year.
Myanmar, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Russia, Mongolia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, India, Canada, Thailand, Australia, Indonesia, Germany, and the United Kingdom are the main countries of inbound tourists.
Most foreign tourists concentrate their visits in the coastal cities and a few inland areas, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Chengdu, Yunnan, and Xi’an. As China’s inland and western provinces develop, foreign and domestic tourism there is increasing. Places like Zhangjiajie are attracting more foreign tourists.
Get more great China travel tips here on China Mike and leave a comment if you have any questions!