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Over 137 million foreign tourists expected to visit China in 2016

Beijing, Feb 1 (IANS) Over 137 million foreign tourists will visit China in 2016, a jump of 2.5 percent from the previous year, authorities said on Monday.

This would be the second year of growth in inbound tourism after the country saw years of decline in foreign tourists since 2011, the China Daily reported.

During the annual meeting held on January 29, the China National Tourism Administration set its development goal for 2016 with international tourism revenue this year expected to reach $121 billion, an increase of 6.5 percent.

Earlier, the China Tourism Academy, a think tank under the China National Tourism Academy, also confirmed the trend. It predicted more than 138 million overseas tourists would visit China.

Li Shihong, deputy head of administration, said second and third tier cities, as well as small towns including Wuzhen in Zhejiang province, Yueyang in Hunan province and Tongli in Jiangsu province will play a leading role in attracting overseas tourists.

“Second and third tier cities and small towns have unique culture symbols, beautiful landscape and have persevered history in their daily lives better (than modern cities). All those are attractive factors to frequent visitors to China,” said Li.

“Besides, the high-speed railway network has connected small towns and also made them more accessible than before. It is a great timing for them to develop inbound tourism industry.”