Beijing will further open its market by allowing a number of wholly foreign-owned companies to provide outbound travel services to customers, a senior official of the city's tourism authority said on Tuesday.
Cao Pengcheng, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development, said the commission was awaiting approval after submitting the document to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
According to the plan, once the foreign travel agencies meet certain requirements, they will be qualified to take visitors on outbound travel, which means foreign-invested travel agencies will take a share from China's huge overseas tourist market.
In 2003, the first wholly foreign-owned travel agency was set up in China. However, there were limitations on its service, as it could not offer outbound travel products.
Shi Jianzhong, secretary-general of the Beijing Tourism Industry Association, said once the document is approved, domestic travel agencies' businesses could possibly be affected, but the new measure is the trend of the industry.
Zhang Guodong, a publicity official at online travel agency ly.com, has a positive view of the new policy.
He said it will not have too much of an impact since China's tourism industry grows 10 percent annually, which is a big market. Online travel businesses develop even faster, with an annual growth rate of 35 to 40 percent.
"Compared with the United States and Europe, whose online travel market is growing at 45 percent to 50 per-cent annually, we still have big growth potential," he said. "Therefore, the new policy is not a big threat to online travel agencies like ly.com."
"Together with foreign-owned travel agencies, we should cooperate and make the market bigger and better."
As incomes grow and consumption is upgraded, China's outbound tourist market has grown rapidly in recent years.
According to data from the ministry, the number of outbound trips by Chinese tourists was 130 million in 2017, up 9 percent year-on-year. Chinese visitors spent $258 billion during their overseas trips, up 5 percent year-on-year.