The country has committed to developing tourism in rural areas, including the remote central and western regions, in a bid to boost the income and improve the livelihoods of local communities.
The reforms were developed by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) in partnership with the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation & Development of China.
“Tourism is well positioned to contribute to rural development as it is a labour-intensive sector providing a wide range of job and entrepreneurship opportunities in areas where other economic activities are often limited or in decay. Furthermore, tourism provides these opportunities locally, helping to curb rural migration,” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.
Data from Chinese tourism authorities shows that between 2011 and 2014, more than 10 million people were lifted out of poverty through tourism. In view of this impact, Chinese authorities are launching a nationwide tourism development plan that aims to lift 17% of the country’s impoverished population above the poverty line by 2020.
The scheme will include the development and support of tourism products focusing on rural areas and the encouragement of small tourism businesses set up by local people. China has also pledged to open up new sources of financing for small tourism enterprises.
The CNTA projects that by 2020, three million rural tourism businesses will be receiving two billion annual visitors. The total income generated is estimated to exceed CNY1 trillion (US$161bn), benefiting 50m rural residents.
The UNWTO recently called for better financing of tourism development projects to help impoverished communities.
“2015 is the year for action. As we move forward to adopt a new sustainable development agenda, we have a unique opportunity to raise the level of assistance in tourism to further harness its vast potential for stimulating green growth and inclusive development worldwide, particularly for the countries most in need,” said Rifai.