China's inbound arrivals will continue to grow by 7-8 percent a year to 163 million in 2010, the Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA) said in a recent report.
There will also be a shift of focus from inbound to domestic tourism, as the latter grows in importance, the report said.
"The situation will be totally different from the 1980s when China relied heavily on the inbound market," the report entitled Realizing China's Tourism Potential, Recommendations for Future Development, said.
In a market that had 1.6 billion domestic travelers last year, "efficient management will be more urgent and important than stimulating demand", PATA Vice-President Michael Yates said on the report's release last month.
The report said special attention should be paid to six market segments.
The six are: meetings and conventions, incentive travel, cruising, red tourism, green tourism, and health and well-being tourism.
"These segments have potential for domestic and inbound tourism growth, and for generating huge social, economic and environmental returns," the report said.
The meeting and convention sector has the most potential.
As well as its existing rich tourism resources and competitive pricing of convention facilities, China can also benefit from hosting three world-class events - the Olympics in Beijing, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, and the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, Yates said.
"Such high-profile events will provide good opportunities for the promotion of the China brand," he said.
In 2000, Sydney hosted 60 international meetings and conventions, up from 53 in the previous year. In 2004, Athens hosted 54, up from 40 in 2003.
What China needs is a concerted effort to create the right package with the right "hardware" and "software" and the leadership of a national conventions bureau, Yates said.
The report also said "red" (cultural) tourism and "green" (eco) tourism deserve more focus, as they have the potential to help lift the rural population out of poverty.
Chinese tourism administration should expand the definition of red tourism and provide a broader historical appeal to attract tourists, the report said.
The PATA also said incentive travel is a growing source of income for China's tourism industry, and by leveraging global interest in traditional Chinese medicine, it can also generate revenue from health and well-being tourism.
As for cruising, mainland travelers are unacquainted with it, so a campaign to increase awareness is required, the report said.
Source: China Daily