Bid to at­tract more visi­tors from abroad

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SU ZHOU suzhou@chi­

China is aim­ing to at­tract more over­seas tourists by ex­pand­ing a 72-hour visafree pol­icy for for­eign­ers and launch­ing more pro­mo­tional web­sites in a va­ri­ety of lan­guages.

Of­fi­cials are con­sid­er­ing mea­sures to ex­pe­dite visa pro­cess­ing and de­velop the sys­tem of visa-free stays for in­ter­na­tional tran­sit pas­sen­gers, the State Coun­cil said in a guide­line pub­lished on Thurs­day.

The pol­icy is al­ready op­er­at­ing in Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou, Kun­ming, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Guilin and Xi’an.

At the same time, the coun­try plans to ex­tend its global reach by set­ting up tourism web­sites with more in­for­ma­tion in more lan­guages.

Of­fi­cials hope the moves will help to im­prove its dis­ap­point­ing in­bound tourism fig­ures.

Out­bound tourism is boom­ing, but the in­bound sec­tor has seen de­clines in visi­tor num­bers and the amount of money spent by visi­tors.

Bei­jing re­ceived 2.36 mil­lion over­seas visi­tors from Jan­uary to July, a drop of 5.9 per­cent com­pared with the same pe­riod last year, ac­cord­ing to the cap­i­tal’s statis­tics bureau.

The China Tourism Academy said Chi­nese tourists spent $47 bil­lion more over­seas than for­eign visi­tors spent in China in the first half of the year. This means China has the largest tourism trade deficit of any coun­try.

Wei Xiao’an, a re­searcher in tourism eco­nom­ics at the China Tourism Academy, said that ex­ter­nal economic con­di­tions and the fact that tourism ser­vices are less de­vel­oped in some ar­eas have con­trib­uted to the in­bound tourism de­cline.

“The ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the yuan means a trip to China is more ex­pen­sive, and the strug­gling in­ter­na­tional econ­omy means many peo­ple in other coun­tries do not have enough money to travel,” said Wei.

“In ad­di­tion, pol­lu­tion in China has at­tracted global at­ten­tion and kept over­seas visi­tors away, es­pe­cially those from Asian coun­tries.

“Tourism ser­vices still need to be im­proved in cer­tain ar­eas. Cities such as Shang­hai have done re­ally well, but some in­ner cities need to in­ter­na­tion­al­ize their prod­ucts and ser­vices.”

Alis­tair Michie, deputy chair­man of the 48 Group Club, an in­de­pen­dent busi­ness net­work, said the ma­jor hur­dle for over­seas tourists is the limited amount of tourism in­for­ma­tion avail­able on­line.

He said many web­sites run by lo­cal tourism au­thor­i­ties suf­fer from prob­lems such as as poor trans­la­tion, limited lan­guage choice and unattrac­tive page de­sign. This makes China look to­tally unattrac­tive for many over­seas tourists.

“Tourists in other coun­tries are not suf­fi­ciently ex­posed to China’s tourism re­sources,” said Michie. “If they come here they love it, but be­fore that web­sites need to let them know about the beauty of a city.” Xin­hua con­trib­uted to this story.

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