Policies aim to bolster travel industry

Updated: Nov 22, 2023 By Cheng Si China Daily Print
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Governments urged to offer incentives, tighten management of recovering sector

China has recently introduced a set of policies to encourage governments of all levels and companies to increase tourism products and boost domestic tourism consumption, as it aims to shape the industry into a strong impetus for socioeconomic development.

On Nov 1, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism released a three-year domestic tourism promotion plan, with the goal of achieving reasonable growth of high-quality domestic tourism by 2025.

According to the plan, advertising for domestic tourism will grow and attract the attention of travelers, and tourism products will be more abundant during the three-year period. The plan aims to improve travelers' experiences and tourism-related services, and strengthen governance over the sector.

The ministry is encouraging tourist attractions to optimize their reservation systems after accurately estimating their capacities so that the public can book visits more easily.

It's also urging local tourism and culture bureaus to cooperate with banks, financial institutions and companies to provide incentives to the public, including discount tickets or coupons, to benefit the average consumer and increase local consumption.

The ministry will also enhance its oversight of the development of online travel agencies and guide them to make better use of tourism resources, including transportation vehicles, accommodations and entertainment venues, so that more businesses in the industry can enjoy benefits brought by tourism development.

The ministry's promotion plan is a byproduct of a State-level guideline previously released by the State Council, China's Cabinet, that focused on the growth of tourism-related consumption, higher-quality development of the industry and the country's economy, as well as improving people's lives overall.

The guideline is divided into five sections and includes 30 measures for improving tourism products and services, as well as directives for enhancing inbound tourism and tightening market supervision over industry operators and companies.

For example, in the section titled "Improving Tourism Products and Services Supplies", the guideline calls for the development of ecological tourism products by making responsible use of the resources in national parks, and for the revival of dormant tourism events or assets through fiscal or financial tools.

Wei Changren, founder of, a tourism-related financial news portal, said that he is concerned about how the financial measures mentioned in the guideline will operate — for example, how to efficiently use dormant assets or tourism projects.

"There are various players with major roles in the tourism industry, particularly businesses such as travel agencies, who have access to multiple tourism resources, including tourist attractions and hotels, and can offer related services," he said. "The COVID-19 epidemic has brought greater damage to those who have tourism resources, as they needed the government to use fiscal or financial policies to help them recover.

"Land used for tourist activity is also a problem, because while the land itself is the very base for tourism development, the status and nature of it determines which financial tools can be used."

The State Council guideline has also highlighted the need to improve inbound tourism and tighten tourism market supervision.

It encourages travel agencies to optimize inbound travel products and expand their promotion campaigns overseas to improve China's image. It has also called on the government to streamline visa application and review procedures for international travelers and resume visa-waiver policies in an orderly fashion.

The guideline said that inbound travel services can be improved by arranging for tour guides and staff members of tourism attractions and hotels to attend foreign language learning lectures or improving multilingual signage at public places such as airports and shopping malls.

Xin Shoudong, vice-president of the travel portal Tuniu, said that the introduction of the new policies is proof of the importance the central government and the culture and tourism ministry have attached to the development of the tourism industry, and that they recognize the impact that the industry has on the nation's economy.

"As the damage caused by the COVID-19 epidemic has faded away since the beginning of this year, people are showing a growing desire to travel abroad, which has allowed the tourism industry to recover quickly here. Take my company as an example — we saw net revenue of 100 million yuan ($13.9 million) in the second quarter this year, up 170.5 percent year on year, which is also the first profit we've seen since the epidemic began in 2020," Xin said.

"However, the industry still faces great pressures, and it needs time to recover to the level it was at before the epidemic," he added. "From a macroscopic view, there are also some uncertainties that are hindering people's confidence in consumption, including pressures brought by economic downturns and the reduction of people's disposable incomes. Also, global uncertainties such as wars and environmental issues may also affect people's confidence in taking outbound trips."

Yang Jinsong, director of the China Tourism Academy's International Institute, said confidence is of great importance in efforts to expand domestic tourism consumption, and the policies rolled out by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will help make tourism-related business and consumers more confident to travel.

"That confidence won't come out of the blue," he said. "The government needs to give practical support to industry operators, tourist channels and technologies to improve consumption and regulate the market."

Figures from the ministry show that tourism-related consumption and the number of domestic travelers registered growth in the first three quarters this year. It said domestic destinations received about 3.67 billion visits in the first nine months of the year, 75.5 percent more than the 1.58 billion seen in 2022.

Visits to sites this year have generated revenue of around 3.69 trillion yuan, up by 1.97 trillion yuan, or 114.4 percent, from the same period last year.

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