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The market for sports tourism races ahead in China
Author:Yang Feiyue  Source:China Daily   

Li Xia has been traveling around to keep up with major marathon events at home and abroad.

He has been to such Chinese cities as Yading in Sichuan province and Yumen in Gansu province, and Japan and the United States to run.

"I don't really care about the results, and I just want to enjoy running and have fun along the way," says Li.

Many like Li now travel to take part in or watch sports events.

The number of travelers who booked sport tourism products through Tuniu, a major online travel agency in the mainland, surged 150 percent in 2016 over the previous year, the travel agency says.

Sports tourism covers hiking, cycling and marathons and the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

First-tier cities in China have become a major source of outbound travelers for sports tourism, according to the report.

Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing in Jiangsu province top the list.

White-collar workers are a major force, accounting for 53 percent of those opted for sport tourism.

Lijiang, Dali, Kunming, the Diqing Tibet autonomous prefecture, Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Xining in Qinghai province, Sanya in Hainan province, and Erdos and Hohhot are the most popular destinations for hiking and cycling, Tuniu reports.

Travel mostly spans four to six days and costs around 2,000-4,000 yuan ($297-$594).
The sports tourism market has potential, experts say, as it only accounts for 5 percent of the tourism market in China, while the figure is 20 percent in developed countries.

The global sports tourism market is now growing at 14 percent annually, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and by 2020, the market is expected to cross $400 billion.

Meanwhile, a bunch of tourism towns featuring sports elements have sprung up or are coming down the pike.

The National Tourism Administration and the General Administration of Sports jointly approved 30 sports tourism facilities in late June, and by 2020, a total of 100 sports tourism destinations will be built, with 100 sports events and 100 sports tourism routes to be developed.

The number of sports travelers from China is expected to reach 1 billion by then, accounting for 15 percent of the tourism pie. And sports tourism expenditure is likely to cross 1 trillion yuan by then, according to the National Tourism Administration and the General Administration of Sports.

Where they come from

Top 10 domestic source of sport tourism traveler



Nanjing, Jiangsu province

Shenzhen, Guangdong province

Guangzhou, Guangdong province


Wuhan, Hubei province

Hangzhou, Zhejiang province

Xi'an, Shaanxi province

Shenyang, Liaoning province


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