In only three decades, the Chinese have gone from easily stereotyped, rube, new tourists to conquerors of the industry.
After hundreds of millions of visits and billions of dollars showered around the world, Chinese tourists now hail from the middle, rich and the very rich classes. Fewer travel in groups. Some still enrage destinations with their thoughtlessness. Others are welcomed for their enthusiasm and unique points of view. Above all, the Chinese are changing tourism around the world.
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This is no accident. The Chinese government has been moving to dominate tourism since Deng Xiaoping gave a series of talks in 1979 on the central role of tourism for China as it opened to the world. His cornerstone talk has the clunky communist title “There’s a Lot to Be Achieved Through Tourism,” but it nonetheless positioned tourism as essential to the country’s seismic economic reforms and its bid to become a major world power.
“China has the Pacific world of tourism on a platter, and it is about to have Europe and Africa on a platter,” said Jonathan Tourtellot, the CEO of the Destination Stewardship Center and a former senior editor and director at National Geographic.
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