Guilin hopes to cash in on tax re­bate plan

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­

The scenic city of Guilin, one of the most pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions in China, should fol­low in Hainan prov­ince’s foot­steps in build­ing a shop­ping mecca, na­tional law­mak­ers have said. In a mo­tion sub­mit­ted to the Na­tional People’s Congress, which con­cluded its an­nual ses­sion in midMarch, leg­is­la­tors from the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, which ad­min­is­ters Guilin, urged cen­tral de­part­ments to al­low the city to launch a trial that gives over­seas guests tax re­funds on their pur­chases in the city.

“The num­ber of for­eign vis­i­tors to Guilin has been ris­ing rapidly, but the in­crease in tourists has gen­er­ated only a slug­gish rise in rev­enues,” said Chen Zhong, an NPC deputy and head of the Guilin com­mit­tee of China Zhi Gong Dang, one of the na­tion’s non-Com­mu­nist par­ties.

Al­most ev­ery itin­er­ary of­fered by over­seas travel com­pa­nies that fea­ture China’s nat­u­ral land­scape in­clude Guilin, mak­ing the city stand with Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Xi’an as among the best-known Chi­nese places for for­eign­ers, Chen said, adding that Guilin — known for its pic­turesque moun­tains, lakes and rivers — is also the top re­cip­i­ent of tourists in Guangxi.

“How­ever, the aver­age pe­riod for for­eign vis­i­tors’ stays in the city is only 2.1 days, so we want to pro­long their stay by of­fer­ing them more at­trac­tive shop­ping op­tions,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to the mo­tion, for­eign tourists and cit­i­zens fromHongKong, Ma­cao and Tai­wan who have been on the Chi­nese main­land for no more than 183 days are el­i­gi­ble for an 11 per­cent re­bate of any pur­chases of 800 yuan ($129) or more.

The is­land prov­ince of Hainan, an­other top des­ti­na­tion for tourists, in­sti­tuted the 11 per­cent re­bate for over­seas shop­pers in 2011. It is the only re­gion within the main­land that has such a pol­icy.

The move has proved to be ef­fec­tive in lur­ing more vis­i­tors and boost­ing lo­cal in­dus­tries, rang­ing from tourism to re­tail­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing, Chen said.

The aver­age time of for­eign vis­i­tors’ stays in the city is only 2.1 days, so we want to pro­long their stay by of­fer­ing them more at­trac­tive shop­ping op­tions.” CHEN ZHONG NPC DEPUTY AND HEAD OF THE GUILIN COM­MIT­TEE OF CHINA ZHI GONG DANG, ONE OF THE NA­TION’S NON-COM­MU­NIST PAR­TIES

Once the cen­tral govern­ment ap­proves the pro­posal, Guilin will es­tab­lish shop­ping malls at sites with a high con­cen­tra­tion of for­eign vis­i­tors, Chen said, not­ing that shop­pers can claim their re­fund at Guilin Liangjiang In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Nearly 2 mil­lion trips were made by over­seas trav­el­ers to Guilin in 2013, up 6.2 per­cent year-on-year. The tourists con­trib­uted 5.4 bil­lion yuan to the city’s rev­enue, ac­cord­ing its tourism bureau.

Xiang Huil­ing, an­other NPC deputy from Guangxi who works with the la­bor union in Guilin, said the city has adopted a se­ries of mea­sures to boost its tourism sec­tor.

She said the city govern­ment re­gards tourism as a pil­lar for the lo­cal econ­omy and that, last year, the lo­cal tourism author­ity staged pro­mo­tional events in Hong Kong and Tai­wan and will in­tro­duce he­li­copter tours in the near fu­ture.

But for those who want to flash their cash, Guilin may not be so tempt­ing.

“I hate to say this,” Xiang said, “but for our vis­i­tors, the most pop­u­lar goods are lo­cal snacks, fruits as well as rice wines, be­cause we can’t of­fer them other choices than these.”

But she said the tax-re­fund pol­icy may in­ject mo­men­tum into the city’s hand­i­craft and sou­venir businesses and spur a lo­cal goods in­dus­try that has more added value.

Along with Guilin, the cap­i­tal city of Bei­jing is also plan­ning to give tax re­funds to for­eign vis­i­tors, ac­cord­ing to ear­lier re­ports.

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