China tourism revenue up 16 percent over Lunar New Year

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's tourism industry saw revenues of 423.3 billion yuan ($61.55 billion) during the recent Lunar New Year festival, up 15.9 percent against last year, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) said late on Thursday.

The rate of growth, driven by 344 million domestic tourist trips, was, however, slightly slower than the 16.3 percent rise seen in the corresponding year-ago period. Trips abroad over the period increased more moderately with around 6.15 million outbound Chinese tourists, up around 7 percent, CNTA said.

China's tourism industry is key to the country's shift towards a more services-driven economy and is a useful indicator of the strength of consumer spending. The domestic sector raked in 3.9 trillion yuan in 2016, which Beijing wants to raise to 7 trillion yuan by 2020, official news agency Xinhua said.

China's retail and catering firms saw sales over the week-long holiday of around 840 billion yuan, the commerce ministry said in a separate statement, up 11.4 percent over 2016.

Lunar New Year in China is closely watched as it marks a spike in tourism and retail spending as millions of people return home or go on vacation domestically or overseas.

($1 = 6.8768 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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