The direct contribution of tourism to Chinese GDP was RMB 1.7 trillion in 2015, the equivalent of 2.6% of total GDP.
This reflects the massive economic activity currently generated by hotels, travel agents, airlines, other transportation services, leisure and food and beverage industries. Tourism in China already employs 64.4 million people, roughly 8.4% of total jobs.
But it's not stopping there.
Estimates suggest that it will almost double to over RMB 3.1 trillion by 2025, generating immense new opportunities for business to develop in China along the way.
Then there's the international dimension.
According to the Financial Times, Chinese tourists spent US$ 498 dollars abroad in 2014. Those numbers continue to surge with the explosion of outbound visitors, especially to Europe and the United States.
Still, the tourism industry in China faces considerable obstacles to growth and there's much to learn from examples abroad in terms of introducing policies which make international tourists feel more comfortable traveling in China.
In this audio excerpt from a speech delivered in Yiwu, China, Gilbert Van Kerckhove shares his assessment and comments on the state of China's tourism sector and where it could go in the future.
Go to Gilbert's blog post to read his summary and see pictures from the event.