BEIJING, 2nd August, 2016 (WAM) – China’s tourism industry raked in 2.25 trillion yuan (US$346 billion) in revenue in H1, up 12.4 percent year on year, official statistics showed on Monday.

Domestic tourists made 2.24 billion trips in the first half, an increase of 10.5 percent. Inbound and outbound trips edged up 4.1 percent to 127 million, China National Tourism Administration (NTA) said.

Tourism has become a strong engine for economic growth. The sector contributed 10.8 percent to GDP last year and created 10.2 percent of new jobs, state-run news agency, Xinhua, said, citing the NTA data.

China’s spending on the tourism sector is likely to triple by 2020, to 3 trillion yuan, NTA head Li Jinzao said during the First World Conference on Tourism for Development, which was held recently.

China invested more than 1 trillion yuan in the sector last year, an increase of 42 percent from the year before that, according to Li.