Yu Yuan 豫园
Lion and Turtle

A lion playing with a turtle on a roof top. Both are traditional symbols in China. The lion symbolizes strength and the turtle brings wealth.

Construction and restoration may be geared toward 2010, but that is an interim goal. What will maintain Yu Yuan and other cultural site for the future is the economic advantages of tourism.

In 1999, Shanghai earned $1.369 billion from international tourists. Since 1984 Japanese tourists have accounted for more than 40 percent of all international tourists to Shanghai. Runners-up were the United States, the Republic of Korea and Germany. That is a drop in the bucket compared to domestic tourism from within China. Foreigners spend more per capita, but the sheer numbers of Chinese tourists are what support the tourist businesses.

For 2004, the estimates for Shanghai were 3.5 million visitors from abroad this year, worth US$2.6 billion. At the same time, domestic tourist numbers were estimated at 95 million. SARS slowed the growth of the tourist industry briefly. It picked up again in 2005.

In 2006, tourism in all of China rose to 1.363 billion tourists, up 10 percent, while tourism revenue hit US$97.8 billion, a year-on-year growth of 12.4 percent. Of those, 36.69 million were foreign tourists who spent at least one night in China. For 2007, the goal is to hit a new record with the revenue hitting RMB one trillion yuan ($120,481,927,710, that's $120 billion).

The 2008 Olympics and the World's Fair in Shanghai in 2010 are expected to jump tourist numbers by 10 to 20%. Shanghai is scrambling to build tourist attractions and add beds so that all of the business doesn't try to cram into Yu Yuan. They are adding 50 tourism villages to bleed off the excess into the countryside, hopefully they will follow the UNESCO guidelines for preservation. One will be on the Pudong side of the Huangpu River.

The Chinese are great tourists. Mountains and natural settings are favorite destinations, and of course, the seaside. China has 1,928 forest parks across the country. In 2006, 200 million tourists visited them to the tune of RMB 80 billion ($960 million). As domestic tourism increases, more and more Chinese are going to a foreign country as their appetites for travel grow. Foreign travel increased 20% in 2006, mostly to Southeast Asian countries.

Statistics from Shanghai Star, China Daily, ChinaCSR.com, People's Daily.

China Index >> History of Shanghai and Suzhou Region >> Yu Yuan

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Last update: February 2007
© Marilyn Shea 1996, 1999, 2002, 2007