Foreign tourists traveling to China this year are in for brand new experiences - enriched tourism products and routes, better local infrastructure and services, more local events and more, thanks to the "2018, Year of Integrated Tourism" campaign announced by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).
The theme aims to enhance the drive to build a "beautiful China" - more balanced and sustainable tourism development, and to better serve the demands of domestic and international travelers.
All regions in China have launched tourism publicity events under the general theme of "Beautiful China" with different annual themes regularly since 2013.
The slogans of this year's campaign are "New Era, New Tourism, New Achievements" and "Region-based Tourism, Brand New Pursuit".
According to Li Jinzao, the chairman of CNTA, over the past several decades, developing tourism in China mainly focused on tourist attractions, scenic areas, and restaurants and hotels, called the tourist attraction tourism model.
As the industry has evolved into a new phase of mass tourism, China's tourism administration has strategically transformed into a new, integrated tourism model, Li said.
The new model refers to a concept and model of tourism prioritized in a region to organically integrate resources and industries, share responsibilities and benefits, and spur tourism-driven economic and social development, according to He Li, deputy director of CNTA's office in New York.
In recent years, integrated tourism has been highly valued by the leadership of China. In 2016, President Xi Jinping said during his visit to Ningxia Hui autonomous region, "Integrated tourism is a correct path which should be adhered to."
"We've decided to deepen the implementation of integrated tourism this year and I think it will also benefit American tourists and other overseas tourists who want to go to China," said He.
A report released by the China Tourism Academy indicates that visitor arrivals and tourism consumption in China in 2016 continued to grow, especially from overseas tourist source markets. China received more than 139 million inbound tourists in 2017, an increase of 0.8 percent, and the number of foreign tourists grew 3.6 percent to 29.2 million.
"Local infrastructure and service enhancement is a top priority," said He. "We are improving the infrastructure development, such as the 'toilet revolution' project in major cities and rural areas to improve infrastructure."
He said that for many foreign tourists, using toilets in many Chinese tourist spots had been an unpleasant experience; now they don't have to worry about that anymore.
The CNTA launched a three-year toilet revolution in 2015, which saw more than $3 billion invested in the installation or renovation of 68,000 toilets at tourist sites.
For the next three years, authorities aim to add 47,000 toilets and renovate 17,000, according to a plan released by the CNTA last November.
"Compared with the rapid growth of the tourism industry and people's increasing demand for better lives, the development of toilets is unbalanced and inadequate," said Li. "Another three-year program is urgently needed."
"As we are introducing the new concept of integrated tourism in China, we also want to attract more foreign tourists to experience the changes for themselves," said Pan Xiaopeng, deputy director of CNTA's office in New York.
Pan said many improvements have been made in different segments of the Chinese tourism industry since the concept was introduced.
Many local tourism boards of Chinese counties set up their own tourism business administration branches and even tourism police and tourism court, eliminating illegal tourism businesses and practices and making China safer.
On the economic development level, the 500 cities and counties that initiated the Integrated Tourism project are attracting 40 percent of the country's inbound visitors, with an increase of 20 percent in volume of inbound visitors and a 28 percent increase in inbound tourist spending.
"We hope more and more foreign tourists will get the chance to go to China and experience our better destinations and better products - a travel experience with more balanced tourism development and better-quality services," said Pan.