Students studying in China join a group to visit the Terracotta Warriors museum in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. (Photo by Yang Feiyue/China Daily)
Inbound tourism numbers are on the rise, thanks in part to a growing number of overseas Chinese language students making visits to the country.
Alina Salionova joined a six-day trip jointly hosted by Chinese online travel giant Ctrip and a subsidiary of the Confucius Institute to visit some of China's top tourist attractions ahead of the busy National Day holiday week.
The Russian woman and two friends joined a group of more than 60 tourists from dozens of countries to visit the Great Wall and the Palace Museum in Beijing, the ancient walled city of Pingyao in Shanxi province, and the Terracotta Warriors in Shaanxi province.
"I've always wanted to see the Terracotta Warriors. This trip is a dream come true for me," Salionova says.
Salionova began to study Chinese at the Confucius Institute in her home country five years ago to develop her interest in the Chinese language and its culture.
"China has many famous places and a long history, and people are kind and quick to help when you're in need," Salionova adds.
She first visited Beijing to watch the 2008 Olympic Games and since then has visited Harbin in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province and Shanghai and Hangzhou in the east for summer vacations.
Salionova is just one of the growing number of inbound travelers to China.
China received 69.5 million inbound visits in the first six months of the year, compared to 62.3 million outbound visits, according to a National Tourism Administration report.
In 2016, the number of inbound visitors reached 138 million, a historical high since the international financial crisis of 2008 and an increase of 3.5 percent over the previous year.