More than three hundred thousand tourists visited China in the first half of this year, and an even greater number is expected in the final six months.
More than three hundred thousand tourists visited China in the first half of this year, and an even greater number is expected in the final six months. It has been forecast that tourists will have brought the equivalent of some two hundred million United States dollars into the country in 1978.
SYNOPSIS: It is also clear the tourist boom is another sign that the world's most populous nation wants to end almost thirty years of self-imposed isolation. The Communist Party newspaper - The People's Daily - said recently that tourism was becoming important for China, because it promoted understanding and friendship with other countries, and helped to pay for the nation's huge modernisation programme. Visits to temples and museums are carefully planned, with groups often being led by young students eager to brush up on a newly-learned foreign language. One such temple is at Fo Shan.
A big programme has been launched to encourage fluency in a second language, especially English, which it is felt, will help advance the country's modernisation programme.
One side effect has been a strain on facilities. Full-house signs are becoming a common sight and tourists often suffer long waiting periods at leading restaurants. Canton bears the brunt of the tourists crush, being less than one hundred miles from the British colon of Hong Kong.
Accommodation - where it is available - is simple but comfortable. Canton's bustling two-thousand room Tung Fang Hotel, with its spacious gardens, is perhaps the best equipped. The rooms are spotless, and a new air-conditioned wing has been recently opened.
Accommodation is likely to remain a problem in the short term, but moves are already underway to ease the shortage. Chinese officials have recently negotiated a contract with a Hong Kong firm to build a number of large hotels in various parts of the country. And it is thought likely that the government will give the go-ahead for a similar deal with Pan American airways.