UNWTO Hails China’s Rural Tourism Initiative

UNWTO Hails China’s Rural Tourism InitiativeUNWTO Hails China’s Rural Tourism Initiative

The UN World Tourism Organization says it welcomes the recent tourism reforms outlined by the Chinese government.

The country has committed to developing tourism in rural areas, including the remote central and western regions, to improve the livelihoods of local communities.

The reforms were developed by China’s National Tourism Administration 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 labor-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 show 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 predicts that by 2020, three million rural tourism businesses will be receiving two billion annual visitors. The total income generated is estimated to exceed 1 trillion yen ($161 billion) and benefit 50 million 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.