CENTRAL Government is predicting that around 300'000 Chinese tourists will be visiting Spain next year and that a million will come in 2020, the Ministry for Industry, Tourism and Commerce said yesterday.

Minister Miguel Sebastian was in China last month presenting a Tourism Plan for the Chinese. He said that Spain will be aiming to adapt the tourist services and facilities it already offers to the needs of the new visitors. Such actions will include the production of guides on Spain in Mandarin, flexibility on eating hours to suit the Chinese in bars, cafés, restaurants and hotels, and the training of bi-lingual guides.

Also on the agenda, said the ministry, were more tourism promotion events in China and a long-term strategy of increasing the number of direct air routes between Spain and China.

Sebastian said that he believed that the Chinese market has the highest growth potential in the world. In 2009, nearly 90'000 Chinese visitors came to Spain, 2.9 percent more than in 2008. Over the last 10 years, the growth rate has been 470 percent, the Minister claimed.

Spain has two official Tourism Offices in China, one in Peking and one in Canton. Last year, between them, the staff at the offices masterminded 73 promotional events, participated in four tourist fairs in China and collaborated with 177 Chinese travel agencies.

On the other side of the coin, the official Tourism office of China in Spain reported that 113'000 Spaniards visited China in 2009, 1 percent more than in 2008.


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