A senior Chinese tourism official called on member economies to deepen collaboration and build up an effective cooperation mechanism and networks of transportation, information exchange and service on Friday.
"Tourism is an important part in people's daily life and a strategic industry in the national economy that has achieved remarkable results," the official said.
He said China's tourism industry has developed quickly in recent years. As a member in the Asia-Pacific region, China cannot develop its tourism without the support of the environment of this family, Shao Qiwei, director of China National Tourism Administration, told Xinhua Friday, just before he left for Macao to attend the eighth APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting (TMM8).
Official data showed that the number of overseas tourists visiting China increased 76 times during the past three decades. The number of overnight foreign visitors to China hit 55.69 million last year. Nearly 100 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad last year, while domestic tourist attractions drew 3.26 billion Chinese visitors.
Among China's 18 major tourist sources, 12 are APEC member economies, which contributed 70 percent of the overseas tourists to China in 2013.
"For many years, economies in the Asia-Pacific region have promoted the opening up and development of regional tourism. Today it is the world's largest airline market and international destination, and the fastest-growing and most attractive potential tourist source," Shao said.
He noted that despite a series of achievements, the region still faces challenges including unbalanced development, inadequate infrastructure. Besides, services and cooperation channels still need further improvement.
Shao also encouraged the region to promote smart tourism to provide better experiences for tourists and develop more talented professionals for the future development of the industry.
TMM8, which will be held in Macao on Saturday, is the first APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting hosted by China. A total of 152 attendees, including the tourism ministers or representatives of 21 APEC economies and delegates from international tourism organizations, will participate in the event.