Beijing - A record 56 million mainland tourists traveled overseas last year, Shao Qiwei, head of the China National Tourism Administration, said on Wednesday.
That number is 2 million more than an earlier estimate of 54 million, and is also an increase of 8.3 million over 2009.
In contrast, 55.7 million overseas tourists visited China and stayed for at least one night last year, up 9.5 percent year-on-year. In total, 134 million overseas visitors came to China, up 6 percent year-on-year, spending $45 billion in the country.
Meanwhile domestic tourists made 2.1 billion trips last year, up 11 percent from the previous year, bringing revenue of 1.25 trillion yuan ($189 billion), he said.
"China's tourism has entered a new round of golden development, thanks to fast economic development, the growth of people's incomes and further opening-up," he said.
Industry analysts said it is the first time that the number of mainland tourists going overseas has exceeded that of inbound overnight tourists.
It is "a significant change", as the growth of China's outbound tourism - 17.5 percent year-on-year in 2010 - is much faster than for inbound tourism, said Jiang Yiyi, director of the International Tourism Development Institute at the China Tourism Academy.
"It is very possible that in a few years' time the number of Chinese traveling overseas will be bigger than the total number of overseas tourists coming in," she said.
Starting this year, the State Council Information Office and the tourism administration will join hands to promote China's tourist resources and boost the national image abroad under a cooperative framework.
Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, told a news conference on Wednesday that the cooperation aims to "let overseas people know about China's hospitality and continuous efforts to improve tourism service so that they can visit China and enjoy it here at ease."
The two sides signed the framework agreement in Beijing on Wednesday, and planned to launch publicity promotions abroad together starting this year.
One of the two national publicity films shot last year will soon be broadcast in the United States, including on major media outlets and on big screens at New York's Times Square, said Wang Zhongwei, vice-minister of the information office.
The commercial, with two editions - 30 seconds and 1 minute - represents prominent Chinese elites from different walks of life and celebrities including basketball star Yao Ming and China's first astronaut Yang Liwei, he said.
Different from China's previous "Made in China" advertising campaign that stressed the importance of cooperation between Chinese companies and overseas partners in producing quality products, this commercial aims to send a friendly message to the world - "Hello world, here we come", he said.
The commercial will also be shown in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East in the future, he added.