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Tourism in China: 21st Century Version of the California Gold Rush
By Kaye Chon, Ph.D., CHE , Chair Professor and Director of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

April 9, 2007 - When the United Nations World Tourism Organization released a report in 1999 that China would emerge as the world’s No. 1 tourist destination by 2020, and that upwards of 130 million people would be visiting that country every year, the international hotel and tourism industry could almost be seen scratching its collective head and saying, “This can’t possibly happen—can it?”

Today we are seeing that not only will this happen, but that’s it’s likely to happen long before year the WTO’s projected year of 2020. Many hotel-and-tourism officials now believe China will be world’s No. 1 tourist destination by 2011 or 2012.

China is a late starter in tourism. The government adopted a so-called “open door policy” in the late 1970s and began welcoming international visitors. Understandably, perhaps, the number of international tourists visiting China was minimal in that early open-door era: In 1978, for example, inbound tourism generated only about a quarter of a billion dollars, with fewer than 2 million border-crossing visitors.

Over the ensuing three decades, however, the world has witnessed a boom in tourism in China: In 2006, inbound-tourism receipts reached $33.95 billion, with 124.94 million border crossing visitors. 

If we look at the hotel industry there, China’s was initiated from inbound tourism in that same year of 1978, when there was a scant total of 137 hotels, representing 15,539 guest rooms. Statistics gathered in 2006 tell the story of hotel-industry growth in China: last year, those tiny 1978 numbers had grown to about 12,800 hotels representing nearly 1.5 million guest rooms.

In recent years, we’ve begun to see many international hotel companies and tourism businesses expand into the Chinese market. I like to characterize this fervent interest as the “California Gold Rush” of the 21st century—and there’s no question that there is tourism “gold” both in China and ready to be spent by Chinese tourists interested in traveling to other countries.

Unfortunately, many foreign hospitality and investment firms today are rushing into China without having a solid understanding of the social, cultural and legal parameters within which business operates. For example, potential investors and developers lack a clear knowledge of the often complex and complicated ownership structure of state-owned hotels and tourism enterprises. This is often a recipe for disaster.

This is why the upcoming Seminar on China Hotel & Tourism Development is a critical one for all hotel developers and investors—especially U.S.-based firms. My seminar, “Overview of the Hotel and Tourism Industry in China—Current Issues and Challenges,” will provide attendees with a qualified perspective and expert views on what to do—and, perhaps more important, what not to do—in dealing with China’s hotel-and-tourism companies and officials. Other important seminars presented by acknowledged experts in China’s hotel-and-tourism market will provide additional important information.

This edition of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Seminar on China Hotel & Tourism Development marks the first time it’s ever taken place in the United States. Never has it been more important for U.S.-based developers and investors to learn about the California Gold Rush of the 21st Century—and how best be part of China’s rush to become the No. 1 international tourist destination. 


The registration fee for the Seminar on China Hotel & Tourism Development is US$1,000 per person. For registration of three or more person from the same organization, the registration fee is US$500 per person. The fee covers the full day program, one lunch and two coffee breaks.

For more information about the Seminar on China Hotel & Tourism Development
and to download a registration form, please click
or email:

Cancellations received in writing before 15 April 2007 will be accepted and fees refunded less US$100 administration expenses. No refund thereafter. 


Le Parker Meridien
118 West 57th Street
New York, NY10019

Kaye Chon, Ph.D., CHE, is Chair Professor and Director of the School of Hotel & Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. A former hotel manager and tourism-industry consultant, Dr. Chon also has served as Professor and Director of the Tourism Industry Institute at the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College.


Flora Ng 
Program Officer 
School of Hotel & Tourism Management 
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University 
Tel: (852) 2766 6543 

Barb Worcester
Tel: (440) 930-5770


Also See: Horwath Executive to Share Latest Outlook on Hotel Performance, Profitabilty in China; Leo Yen, Director of Horwath HTL Asia Pacific, will focus on China's development potential in address at Hong Kong Polytechnic University's first-ever U.S. event / April 2007
China-based Lodging Executive to Speak on Increasing Need for Foreign Investment; Jinling Hotels President Frank Hou will present views on growing development opportunities at Hong Kong Polytechnic University-sponsored seminar / April 2007
Top Industry Educator to Conduct Seminar on China’s Mushrooming Outbound Tourism; Tony Tse of event co-sponsor Hong Kong Polytechnic University will speak at first-ever U.S.-held Seminar on China Hotel & Tourism Development / March 2007
TEDA C.E.O. Presenting Overview on Trends in Hotel, Tourism Development in China / March 2007
Expanding Opportunities in the Hotel Industry in China Prompts a Special One Day Seminar in New York City, April 27, 2007 / February 2007


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