| While the gap between the massive luxury hotels in
the big cities and the more limited facilities elsewhere, hotel building
continues apace. The number of tourist hotels shot up from 5,782 in 1998
to 8,880 by 2002.
Travel within China has become easier in recent
years with the lifting of travel controls, massive investment in transport
facilities such as roads, railways and airlines, and the rapid rise in
incomes. The number of domestic tourists increased from 695 million in
1998 to 878 million in 2002, boosting domestic tourism receipts from
Rmb239.1 billion (US$28.9 billion) to Rmb387.8 billion (US$46.9 billion).
Controls on foreign travel are being gradually
eased. Rising disposable incomes and constant exposure to foreign
countries on television have also contributed to a surge in outward
tourism. One indication of this is the increase in the number of travel
agencies, from 6,222 in 1998 to 11,552 in 2002, which has accompanied a
rise in the number of Chinese tourists going abroad from 3.2 million to
10.1 million in the same period. The proportion of Chinese going abroad
for "private purposes" rose steadily during that time from 38.1%
to 60.8%. Almost all the growth in travel agencies has so far been in
Chinese-owned agencies, which increased from 4,910 to 10,203, while
international travel agencies in China have remained at just over 1,300.