China is this week hosting its largest annual tourism fair at a time when it seems the whole world is lining up to tap into what has now become a vast market - both inbound and out-bound.
The China International Travel Mart ( http://www.citm.com.cn) - to be held this year at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre from November 18-21 - is expected to attract more than 100,000 people, more than half of them members of the public keen to expand their travel options.
CITM is fast becoming a major show on the tourism calendar and could soon be nipping at the heels of its Western counterparts such as February's New York Times Travel Show, ITB Berlin in March and the Global Travel and Tourism Summit to be held in Las Vegas in May.
Record numbers of Chinese are now heading overseas each year - 54 million are expected to make plans for international travel by the time 2010 draws to a close - with Hong Kong and Macau the most popular destinations.
But other markets are keen to cash in on the growing Chinese market.
South Korea, for example, for the first nine months of the year saw a 43.9 per cent rise in visits from mainland Chinese, the number rising to 1.43 million after a series of Chinese-based promotions and advertising campaigns. And Japan - after a similar campaign - saw Chinese visitor numbers rise by 39.3 percent in September (to 138,000).
CITM - which each year alternates between the cities of Shanghai and Kunming - has lined up exhibits from tourism bureaus, airlines, hotels and travel agencies as well as seminars on the issues facing both the Chinese and international tourism industries.
International tourism agencies are increasing their interest in tours to mainland China after the country's successful hosting of major events - such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, this year's World Expo in Shanghai and the Asian Games, which are currently being held in the southern city of Guangzhou - have resulted in billions of dollars being spent on improving infrastructure and services such as public transport and hotels.
China International Travel Mart
Shanghai New International Expo Centre