China International Travel Service (abbreviated to CITS) was established on April 15, 1954, with 12 branches in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and other major cities. At its beginning, CITS has been a department of the Foreign Culture Exchange State Committee and department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for over a decade, acting as a nongovernmental friendship bridge for the state between home and abroad.
19 CITS branches had been set up in major cities across the country to the end of 1957, while the business network was initially formed. During this period, CITS focused on foreign affairs reception.
Another 35 CITS branches were established.
CITS was authorized with another official name: China National Tourism Administration Bureau (abbreviated to CNTA). At this stage, government function and enterprise management was combined; the CNTA and CITS were in different names but with the same staff. CITS has established 46 branches until 1996.
According to Principle of Separation of Enterprise from Administration, CITS specialized in all travel- related service, while CNTA concentrated on national tourism management.