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Premier says tourism push to help relieve poverty

An Baijie
Updated: May 20,2016 7:38 AM     China Daily

Premier Li Keqiang joins participants at the first World Conference on Tourism for Development, which opened on May 19 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.[Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily]

The government aims to help 12 million people out of poverty by boosting tourism in the next five years, Premier Li Keqiang announced on May 19.

He made the remark at the opening ceremony of the first World Conference on Tourism for Development, held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The conference, proposed by the Chinese government and jointly hosted with the United Nations World Tourism Organization, drew more than 600 representatives from 107 countries.

Most of China’s poverty-stricken regions are in remote and mountainous areas, and such places have natural advantages for developing the tourism industry, the Premier said. He added that tourism is an important means for poverty reduction.

Tourism plays an important role in China’s supply-side economic reform and the upgrade of China’s industrial structure, and the government will develop tourism and protect the environment at the same time, he said.

The Premier called on all countries to ease visa policies, simplify entry procedures and protect travelers’ interests to boost tourism worldwide. China will carry out 50 tourism projects with international cooperation in the next five years to help the global economy recover, he said.

China is the largest tourism source market in the world, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

About 120 million Chinese traveled overseas last year and spent a total of 684 billion yuan ($104.5 billion), it said.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, who attended the ceremony, said, “China is a leader in tourism and a nation that knows exactly what tourism is able to do for economic and social development.”

Mozambique President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi said at the conference that his government will ease visa procedures to encourage more tourists to visit the country.

About 50,000 of Mozambique’s 25 million people are working in tourism industries, generating a total tourism revenue of $135 million last year, he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a congratulatory letter to the conference that tourism involves many economic sectors as well as social culture.

He said it also can create jobs, contribute to preserving culture and build cross-cultural understanding.

In 2011, the Chinese government designated May 19 as China’s National Tourism Day to honor Xu Xiake, a famous geographer and traveler of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) who wrote travel books.

His first travelogue was written on May 19, 1631.

Li Jinzao of the China National Tourism Administration said the government will improve such infrastructure as roads, waterways and urban construction to boost tourism, especially in poverty-stricken regions.

The job opportunities created by tourism and related industries account for 10.2 percent of the country’s total employment, he said.

He added that the number of Chinese outbound tourists will reach 600 million in the next five years.