Direction, Pathway and Policies of Chinese Tourism in the New Era

2023-02-25 08:43:17       Size:[L  M  S]

Direction, Pathway and Policies of Chinese Tourism in the New Era

Keynote Speech by Dai Bin

President of China Tourism Academy

At the WTA Xianghu Dialogue

February 24, 2023, Hangzhou

The Spring Festival of 2023 is the first public holiday after China started treating COVID-19 as a “Category B” infectious disease and loosened the relevant restrictive measures. During the holiday, Chinese people made 308 million domestic trips, and spent 375.843 billion yuan on tourism, returningrespectively to 88.6% and 73.1% of the level in 2019. As the number suggests, weve just had the best Spring Festival holiday for the tourism industry in three years. On February 6, several Chinese travel agencies, including CTG Travel, Ctrip, CGZL, SpringTour, Caissa and CYTS, organized their first outbound tours in the new year, which were accorded with warm hospitality in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia. This greatly boosted market expectation and confidence in tourism consumption, and further strengthened the market foundation for strong start, steady growth and sustained rebound of the tourism economy through the year. Based on the assessment of fiscal, economic,consumption, investment, civil aviation, transportation, entry/exit management and other macro policies as well as predictive indicators such as residents willingness to travel, staff recruitment, corporate confidence and destination promotion, we have reasons to be optimistic about the prospect of Chinas tourism economy in 2023. Domestictrips, tourism consumption, and inbound and outbound trips are expected to respectively recover to 85%, 75% and 40% of the 2019 level, and enter a normal development track and a new phase of high-quality development toward the end of this year and the beginning of next year.

Over the past three years, the tourism market has taken a hard hit. Consumer behavior, as well as peoples perceptionof tourism, has also notably changed. In the past, tourists liked travelling to distant destinations, i.e. another city or another province, or even better, another country or continent; they liked staying longer days, at least spending a night, in the place they visit; theylikedclassic tourist sites, i.e. famous mountains and rivers, grasslands, forests, lakes, ancient villages and towns, historical and cultural cities, and historicaland cultural heritage sites. However, during the pandemic, outbound travel literallystopped. Even domestic travel during holidayswasconfined to a radius of no more than 100 kilometers. Nowadays, people are more inclined to watch thescenery in their neighborhood and enjoy the beauty of everyday life. The Stories of Shanghai Architectureprogram launched by SpringTour, and the Get Ready for a Wild Weekend program launched by Mafengwo are both successful experiments in this direction. In addition to that, the choice of distant destination is no longer limited to popular cities and scenic spots. From theaters to vegetable markets, every place can become a tourist scene. Consumer decisions on outbound tourism have also become more rational. New demands such as reverse tourism, flat-rate tourism and staycationmay looklike personal choices, butessentially, they are all rational decisions. The underlying logic is quite simple - it is nothing more than a rational choice made by tourists based on cost-benefit analysis.

From the first seven-day National Day holiday in 1999 to today, China has entered a new stage of all-round development oftourism for all. The target consumers are expanding in scope, and consumption is on upgrade. Changes in tourist demand and consumption behavior will inevitably affect the innovation of business supply and industrial dynamics, which in turn will affect the adjustment of industrial policies and regulatory systems. On a more macro level, China has completed the historictask of eradicating poverty and building a moderately prosperous society, and is now moving towardnational rejuvenation through the Chinese path to modernization. In this strategic context, the tourism industry needs new thinking and new policiesto do a better job intourism marketing, destination building, public services and industrial innovation.

China will continue to follow a people-centered approach in developing tourism for all. Tourism ispeoples right and an everyday way of life. When devising the national tourism strategy for the new era, we need to make sure that all our people can afford and enjoy their travel and travel with confidence, so as to give them the opportunity to pursue the life in their dream while enjoying a life of material abundance.Today, tourism has become part of our daily life and an essential demand for most people. The data of Qunar shows that: the average age of the largest group of consumers who buy the first air ticket in their life has dropped to 20 to 25 years, and nearly half of them come from thirdand lower-tier cities, including Alshan in Inner Mongolia, Qilian in Qinghai, Kashgar in Xinjiang, Chuxiong in Yunnan ...... covering 1,827 county-level cities. This means that more and more urban and rural residents have both the will andability to travel to faraway places to explore a landscape of unique beauty and experience a different type of quality life. That said, it is also important to note that even before the pandemic, we only had 4.3 domestic trips and 7.82 days of travel time per person per year, 270 kilometers of distance travelled on holidays, and940 yuan of spending per person per trip. This showswe still have a lot of work to do to give our people the tourism experience they dream about.

China will accelerate the development of smart tourism by advancing tourism modernization. Thetourism model of waiting for windfall gains by enclosing natural landscape and selling tourist ticketsis no longer effective. Today, DIY tours,self-driving tours, and personalizedforms of tourism are becoming more popular. Therefore, we need to make better use of mobile Internet, artificial intelligence, 5G communication and modern finance to create more consumption scenes and promote the construction and high-quality development of the modern tourism system. With the rise of mobile Internet,smart tourism, which is driven mainly by demand, has entered a new stage of consumer scene construction, and will inevitably evolve into a modern form of tourismdriven by supply. The modernization of tourism industry means more refined division of labor, extended industrial chain, anda full-fledged business ecosystem underpinned by the development of large corporate groups, specialized operation of medium-sized enterprises and collaborative innovation of small- and micro-sized enterprises. In the face of globaltourism competition, we must be clear-eyed that science and technology is the primary productive force, talent is the primary resource, and innovation is the primary driving force. Finding new areas, new tracks, new drivers and new strengths is essential for achieving high-quality tourism development.

China will actively practice the green tourism development model guided by the vision of ecological civilization. Respecting nature, observing the laws of nature and protecting nature are the inherent requirements of building a socialist country in all respects. It is also the fundamental principles that must be followed in promotingtourism developmentin the new era. Green mountains and lush waters are invaluable asset to humanity, so aremountains and lands of ice and snow. Mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands and deserts together make an interdependent community of life. Under the guidance of the vision of ecological civilization, thegovernment will build a number of green tourism pilot zones. The concept of green tourism developmentwill run through the whole process fromresource exploration, investment and construction to product development, enterprise operation and marketing. Mature experience gained in this process will be replicated and promoted on a nationwide basis. The government will also step uppublicity of tourist civility on the basis of documents such as the Convention on Tourist Civility in Domestic Tourism and the Guide to Tourist Civility in Outbound Tourism, and encourage tourists to live in harmony with nature, contribute to the protection of cultural heritage, and engaged in equal-footed communication with local residents.

China will push for new progress in promoting civilized tourism under the principle of openness and sharing. Tourism is a vehicle for preserving and creating culture, and a key aspect of the cultural dimension of Chinese modernization. It is also a form of equal dialogue between different civilizations, cultures and nations. The Chinese people have long cherished the tradition of reading a thousand books and traveling a thousand miles, andheld a special aspiration for traveling abroad. Going forward, we need to make good use of multilateral mechanisms such as the plan to promote tourism in Asia, the Belt and Road Initiative, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and APEC, as well as Tourism Year and other bilateral activities, and better leverage the role of the World Tourism Alliance, the World Tourism Cities Federation, the International Mountain Tourism Alliance and other industrial organizations to share the opportunities of Chinas outbound tourism development with all countries and regions. In the process of developing outbound tourism, the government will pay more attention to tourist safety and service quality, instead of seeking to maintain a surplus in service trade with any country at any time. We also need to implement the national plan for inbound tourism revitalization, and promote the image of Beautiful China on the world stage. It is also important to ensure effective coordination among foreign affairs, immigration, customs, ports of entry, industry and information technology, finance, culture and tourism departments to introduce more convenient visa, border control, payment and logistics policies, and meet the needs of overseas tourists with higher-quality domestic resource development, product innovation and public services.

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