The global impact of Chinese tourism creates frequent headlines. As the week-long Chinese National Day holiday takes off, the world’s media is moving into overdrive. One critical driver of China’s travel revolution – central planning – often goes overlooked, however. Since the turn of the century, the Chinese government has carefully strategised the development of domestic and outbound travel. China views its travel sector as a pillar of both national economic growth and international strategic influence, and has stated that tourism is entering “a golden period.”

Consequently, China is spending big. By 2020, tourism investment in China is slated to reach RMB2 trillion, according to the State Council, and contribute around 12% of GDP. Taken together, Chinese domestic, inbound and outbound tourism could surpass RMB6 trillion in value in 2017, and RMB7 trillion by 2020, according to the China Tourism Academy and Tuniu, an online travel agency.

Check-in Asia’s Gary Bowerman has been advising clients on trends in Chinese domestic and outbound tourism since 2004, and is the author of The New Chinese Traveler: Business Opportunities from the Chinese Travel Revolution, plus detailed reports on China’s tourism economy. Here, he selects 6 recent media stories highlighting the role of central planning for developing and promoting Chinese tourism.

1)  6m Chinese set to travel abroad during Golden Week

The week-long Chinese National Day public holiday, from 1-8 October, is eagerly anticipated across China and worldwide. This peak travel season could witness 650 million Chinese holidaymakers at home and abroad. While the vast majority will vacation in China, six million tourists could head overseas.

2) China vows to turn itself into a world tourism power by 2040

China has enacted legislation covering all aspects of travel and tourism, but what is the ultimate goal? In an interview during the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, the Chairman of China’s National Tourism Administration set out plans to be “a highly intensive world tourism power by 2040.”

3) China’s airlines handle 363 million passengers in January-August, up 12.6%

China’s Big 3 airlines have benefited from strong state support to expand their operations, both within and beyond China. From January-August 2017, 363 million passengers flew on a Chinese airline, up 12.6% year on year. Domestic routes accounted for 326 million passengers, with 36.92 million people flying on international routes.

4) Bullet trains take aim at short-haul flights

Since 2007, China has rolled out more than 20,000km of high-speed rail track. Its inter-city bullet trains are now challenging airlines for passengers, with journeys of less than 1,000 kilometres being the most competitive market segment.

5) China stresses cooperation for global tourism boom

The 89-member World Tourism Alliance was launched at the UNWTO conference in Chengdu. Described as “the AIIB of global tourism” and headquartered in Beijing, will it achieve its stated objective to provide “a platform for international tourism cooperation and exchanges?”

6) For Chinese tourists, rising spending power can lift SE Asia, B&R markets

The much-hyped Belt & Road initiative, which is designed to enable Chinese firms to fund and deliver transport and commercial infrastructure projects in South East Asia and beyond also targets tourism. “As China continues to strengthen cooperation with countries along the B&R routes, Chinese travellers to those destinations will increase,” comments state media.

For fresh insights about China’s fast-changing tourism landscape, check out our new China Outbound report for Mintel. This detailed report looks at the projected areas of expansion in Chinese travel. It also assesses the next phase of market diversification, as China’s new wave of aspirational travellers takes flight from the lower-tier cities.