China tourism revenue growth in 2018 slowest in a decade

February 13, 2019 07:38
People watch hot air balloons during a tourism event in Guizhou province. Revenue from tourism accounted for about 11 percent of China's GDP last year. Photo: Reuters

Growth in China’s tourism revenue fell to its lowest level last year since the global financial crisis a decade ago, highlighting growing risk in a fast-growing sector as Chinese consumers became more cautious, Reuters reports.

Overall tourism earnings grew 10.5 percent in 2018 from a year earlier to 5.97 trillion yuan (US$881.49 billion), decelerating from a 15.1 percent gain in 2017 and marking its slowest pace of growth since 2008, when it was just 5.8 percent, data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed.

China has rolled out a flurry of stimulus measures since late 2018 to spur consumption from cars to home appliances amid a broader economic slowdown, as it tackles financial risk at home and navigates a trade war with the United States.

But many analysts still expect household spending to remain weak despite policy support. Consumption growth in China is “very likely” to slow further this year as the economy cools, the commerce ministry said on Tuesday.

“We believe household consumption will likely be sluggish, given the quick build-up of household debt, the lackluster income growth outlook amid the economic slowdown and the cooling property sector,” analysts from Nomura wrote in a note on Monday.

Revenue from tourism accounted for about 11 percent of GDP in 2018, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

Despite the slowdown in domestic tourism spending, more Chinese are opting for international travel, continuing a trend that has made Chinese the world’s biggest spenders on international tourism.

In 2018, Chinese people made 149 million international tourist trips, up 14.7 percent from a year earlier, when growth was less than half, the ministry added.

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