This figure continued to rise in subsequent years, as depicted by the figure below1.
The total number of inbound tourists and growth rates between 1996-2000 were respectively as follows: 51.1275 million in 1996, with an increase of 10.2% over the previous year; 57.5879 million in 1997, a rise of 12.6%; 63.4784 million in 1998, up 10.2%; 72.7956 million in 1999, up 14.7%; and 83.4439 million in 2000, increasing by 14.7%.
But the real impetus came after China joined the WTO regime in December 2001. Thereafter European tourists also headed towards China in big numbers, as they wanted to unravel the mystery called China, the land of billions. Business community from Europe and America now wanted to explore the market potential of China. This further helped the Chinese tourism industry, which too started realizing the need for bringing in more professionalism in the industry. Tourism education forms a basic component for managing the industry more professionally. Tourism education began in a big way in 1978 when Nanjing Tourism School was first established and Shanghai Tourism College the year after. China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) set up tourism departments in seven colleges and universities in the 1980s to meet the needs of developing managerial personnel for the tourism industry. To prosper, tourism requires participation of the industry, the government and the public in good measure. Meanwhile, many other colleges and schools began to set up their own tourism education departments or specialties (Zhang et al, 2001). In addition, some organizations, like international hotel chains, tourism companies also started taking interest in setting up their own training system, providing on the job training, various management trainings etc. From Chinese government statistics, in 1986, there were only 27 universities and colleges offering hospitality and tourism programs with 4,800 students. The number increased to 69 universities with 8,551 students in 1989. Subsequently in 1998 there were 936 tourism schools and colleges having 29,566 students (Huyton et al, 1999). Before the onset of the liberalization era Chinese government was known for keeping a firm control on almost all service sectors. But gradually the public sector units with the government are being handed over to private management and government has started concentrating on governance. A report by United Nations' World Tourism Organisation, at the end of the year 2004, China stands as the fourth largest international tourist destination in the world with 109m inbound visitors in 2004.that brought in a foreign exchange of around US$25.7bn. The Global Competitive Report 2006-2007, brought out by the World Economic Forum, places China at 71st place in terms of Travel and Tourism Competitive. The report states that2, "Although China is ranked 3rd in terms of World Heritage sites, and 11th in terms of price competitiveness, it has a policy environment that is not at all conducive for T&T development (ranked a low 97th), with property rights that are not sufficiently protected, strong foreign ownership restrictions and stringent visa requirements." That effectively means that there's still a lot for China to encourage tourism in the country. Providing, tourism education to the