Today, China holds a very strong position among the world’s top tourist destinations. It is no surprise when you consider its unique cultural heritage and natural treasures whose extreme significance for mankind is emphasized by UNESCO.
There is amazingly rich history and one-of-a-kind culinary art, a versatile climate and lifestyles ranging from the peace and quiet of remote villages to the hectic energy of modern cities with their never-ending noise. There is no need to mention China’s growing economical power that, in turn, enables the development of tourism infrastructure, as well. All these factors have a strong hold on tourists from all over the world.
However, the situation has not always been the same. During the period between 1949 and 1974, a time still fresh in the memory of those interested in China’s history, the country was closed to all foreign visitors, albeit with some rare exceptions. In the late 1970s, due to Deng Xiaoping’s initiative to promote inbound tourism to the People’s Republic as a means of earning foreign exchange, the country started to develop its hospitality industry. Major hotel construction programs, renovation of numerous historic and scenic sites, as well as training of service personnel became the most essential note of that time.
China also realised the importance of connection: the easier it is to get to the country, the more tourists it can attract – let’s not forget that ease of transportation has always been one of the top priorities when choosing a holiday destination, especially when we speak about long-haul travel. This was the starting point for the expansion of domestic and international airline traffic, along with the development of other tourist transportation facilities. The results did not take long to appear. In 1985 approximately 1.4 million foreigners visited China and many more would follow.