Ten Big Events For China's Tourism Industry In 2010

A recent report released by the World Tourism Organization shows that the the global tourism industry has exceeded the highest level reached in the same period of 2008, the pre-financial-crisis year. Worldwide tourist arrivals between January and August 2010 totalled 642 million, an increase of 7% over the same months of 2009 and 1 million more than in the same period in the record year 2008. Based on current trends, the number of international tourist arrivals is projected to show an increase of 5% to 6% over the full year.

Looking back the big events in China's tourism industry in 2010, we can see that the strategy of "cultivating tourism as a major strategic industry for the national economy and a more satisfying modern service industry" has actually been implemented thoroughly and has resulted in great achievements.

The Expo Drives Tourism Development in 2010
China National Tourism Administration designated 2010 as the Year of China Expo Travel, conducting a series of promotional activities inside and outside the country. Statistics from the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo show that tourists made 73,084,400 visits to the Expo Garden, and of these over 3.5 million visits were made by foreign tourists. Preliminary statistics from the China Tourism Academy shows that the Expo brought in more than CNY80 billion in direct tourism revenue. It is also estimated that the Expo contributed 5% of Shanghai's GDP in 2010, and 40%-50% of the investment in the Yangtze River Delta. The proportion of tertiary industry in Shanghai's GDP will rise to 60%: the highest ever. What's more, the Expo has been a great opportunity for Shanghai to become a world-class MICE city.

Beijing Concentrates on High-end MICE Business
In May 2010 the Global Travel & Tourism Summit 2010 was been held in Beijing to promote the high-end tourism resources and products of Beijing. The resulting China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition is expected to be the highest-profile international MICE exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2012, the Society of Incentive Travel Executives Annual Conference which is the top event in the high-end incentive travel business will also be held in Beijing.

In July 2010 Beijing has adjusted its administrative divisions. The new Dongcheng District now has more historical and cultural resources. Being the core functional area of Beijing, Dongcheng District possesses the advantage of a unique location, rich business travel resources, and a competitive conference market. The development of the conference industry will promote the development of the regional tourism economy, leading to the construction of a "modern and international Dongcheng".

Dongcheng established the Meeting Operators Alliance in November 2010. Among the 45 members, there are meeting organizers as well as service providers, covering the whole industry chain. As a branch of the Dongcheng District Tourism Industry Association, the alliance will focus on cooperating with enterprises and institutions working on MICE to launch interactive services such as information release, resource sharing, and business exchange to achieve win-win cooperation. The alliance will enhance the competitiveness and cohesion of MICE enterprises to further accelerate the development of Dongcheng's MICE industry.

High-Speed Railway Increases Chinese Transportation Market Competition
Since the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway has been put into operation, China's transportation market has entered a period of fierce competition. The central Chinese government has invested CNY4 trillion, and local governments have invested CNY18 trillion, to stimulate China's economic development since the global financial crisis, and much of this has been put in transportation. By 2012, the mission of constructing 40,000 kilometers of railway in 11 years will be 91% complete.

The Ministry of Railways has a planned vision it terms "four horizontal and four vertical". Specially, the four vertical refers to the Beijing-Shanghai passenger rail from Beijing through Tianjin to the Yangtze River Delta; the Beijing-Wuhan-Guangzhou-Shenzhen passenger rail, connecting eastern China and southern China; the Beijing-Shenyang-Harbin (Dalian) passenger rail, connecting northeast China and the Shenzhen urban area; and the Hangzhou-Ningbo-Fuzhou-Shenzhen passenger rail, connecting the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the southeastern coastal area. Four horizontal refers to the Xuzhou-Zhengzhou-Lanzhou rail connecting the northwest and the east; the Hangzhou-Nanchang-Changsha-Kunming rail connecting central and eastern China; the Qingdao-Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan Rail connecting northern and eastern China; and the Shanghai-Nanjing-Wuhan-Chongqing-Chengdu rail connecting southwestern and eastern China.

On January 16, 2010, the application for project funding for the Hong Kong section of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high speed railway was approved by the Hong Kong Legislative Council. This section will be completed in 2015. Then it will take about just eight hours to travel from Hong Kong to Beijing by HSR: compared to the current 24 hours. It is also expected that the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Futian section will be put into operation in September 2012. In the future, the HSR network in mainland China will be connected with Hong Kong and it will only take half day to travel between Hong Kong and Beijing or Shanghai.

On July 1, 2010, the Shanghai-Nanjing Intercity Rail was officially opened. It takes about one hour to make the 300-kilometer journey between the two cities on the HSR.

In October 2010, the Shanghai-Hangzhou Intercity Rail opened too. This HSR has not decreased the passenger source market of Hangzhou's civil aviation industry, but has greatly shortened the time to travel to Shanghai, which makes it convenient for passengers to take the HSR to catch flights from another city. The Shanghai-Hangzhou Intercity Rail is 160 kilometers long, the design speed is 350 km/h, and it only takes about 38 minutes to travel between Hangzhou and Shanghai, 40 minutes faster than the current Shanghai-Hangzhou EMU.

On November 15, 2010, the construction of theBeijing-Shanghai HSR was completed and it will be put into trial operation soon. This HSR has gone through Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai, and is planned to be used during the National Day holiday in 2011. By then it will only take four hours to travel between Beijing and Shanghai and the Yangtze River The delta one-hour traffic circle will be upgraded for the Bohai Rim and Yangtze River Delta three-hour circle. This is the third HSR to Shanghai with a designed speed of 380 km/h, after the Shanghai-Nanjing rail link and the Shanghai-Hangzhou rail link, and it is also the first HSR connecting the south and north, with an overall length of 1,300 kilometers.

What challenges does this bring the aviation industry when HSR is developing so fast in China? Looking at the current situation and foreign experiences, HSR mainly pinches the major air routes market. Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd estimates that HSR has the most impact on air routes shorter than 800 kilometers, a medium impact on routes between 800 to 1,000 kilometers, and less impact on long-haul routes.

Experts say there will be more human mobility needs in the future, and the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta, and Bohai Rim will depend on the HSR transportation. HSR has greatly shortened the distance between cities. For example, flying is not as efficient as traveling by HSR if the two destinations are 100 to 400 kilometers apart. But passengers will balance speed, cost and comfort to decide which means of transport to choose; they will have different considerations for different distances when making their choice.

China to Adopt Revised Star-rating Standard for Tourist Hotels
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Standardization has approved the national Star-rating Standard for Tourist Hotels (GB/T 14308-2010), which has been implemented since January 1, 2010.

The former Star-rating Standard for Tourist Hotels (GB/T 14308-2003) has been widely recognized by the hospitality industry ever since its implementation. Star-rated hotels have been developing very well over this time, and the quality has varied in different areas. The construction of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society called for higher requirements for the emission reduction and energy saving work of hotels. The China National Tourism Administration has started work on the fourth revision of the standard. The new edition been reviewed by the tourism administrations of 31 provinces, star-rating professionals and hotel companies, as well as the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Commerce. On September 28, 2010, CNTA has submitted the new Standard to the Standardization Administration after it has passed the review of the new National Tourism Administration Technical Committee. The new standard puts stress on the necessary programs, core products, green and environmental protection, emergency handling, software measurability, and special features of a star-rated hotel, and will play an important role in guiding and regulating the development of the Chinese hospitality industry.

TravelSky Becomes First GDS Provider to Issue EMD
The International Air Transport Association has announced on its official website that China TravelSky Holding Company has become the first GDS provider in the world to issue an electronic miscellaneous document.

EDM helps airlines that solely depend on e-tickets realize paperless work on miscellaneous charges orders or miscellaneous payment documents, and also helps airlines to charge for additional services such as rebooking fees, excess baggage fees, seat selection fees, and other non-transportation fees. Meanwhile TravelSky's EMD product meets IATA's standards in every aspect and is very convenient for airlines to realize intermodal marketing of auxiliary services. IATA estimates that in 2014 the global auxiliary service revenue will reach USD40-50 billion. As direct marketing is growing rapidly in recent years, many Chinese airlines have been developing cross-industry businesses, market segmentation, differentiated services, and additional services have already been the new profit growth sector.

Based on the feedback from the domestic market, TravelSky has chosen rebooking products to be the first business model for development and design. On May 11, 2010, Sky’s first EMD product – Rebooking Fee Product, was put into operation in the Wangjing Operations Department of Air China in Beijing.

Hainan Accelerates Construction of the International Tourism Island
After Opinions on Accelerating Construction and Development of Hainan International Tourism Island was released by the State Council at the beginning of 2010, Hainan's tourism industry has been focused on this for the whole of 2010.

Hainan Island has a unique climate, environment and tourism resources in China, with unique advantages in developing tourism real estate. Many famous hotel brands have chosen Hainan to open new hotels, which has laid a foundation for the island developing high-end tourism. The visa-free service is also progressing. As one of the supporting measures for the construction of the International Tourism Island, the Hainan Public Security Bureau has developed the "Hainan International Tourism Island Visa Free Tour Group Management and Monitoring Information System" to manage the customs declarations, accommodation registration, and itineraries of visa free groups. According to the Opinions on Accelerating Construction and Development of Hainan International Tourism Island by the State Council, five more countries including Finland, Denmark, Norway, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan will enjoy the visa free policy for visits to Hainan, in additional to the existing 21 countries. For Russian, South Korean, and German tour groups, the minimum number of members of a tour group has been adjusted to two people, and the longest stay has extended to 21 days.

Hotels In Shandong Province to Charge for Disposable Amenities
Shandong Province's 15 departments including the energy-saving office have jointly issued plans to gradually phase out disposable amenities. Starting on June 1, 2011, all hotels in Shandong province will officially have to charge for disposable amenities. According to official statistics, the country has nearly 10,000 star hotels, consuming 1.2 million or CNY2.2 billion worth of disposable amenities per day. What's more, disposable amenities cannot be recycled, which cause waste from double treating. Shandong provincial government has decided to stop the use of disposable amenities in two stages. During the transition period between December 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011, disposable amenities will not be delivered to each room or dining table but will only be offered at guests' requests at a service center or service desk. Beginning from July 1, all hotels will officially have to charge for disposable amenities, which will be marked with price tags.

In the meantime, Shandong Province will limit the establishment of disposable amenity factories, set standards for production of disposable amenities, improve disposable amenity standards, and reduce fiscal support for disposable amenity production.

Mainland Tourists Visiting Taiwan Gain Great Achievements
The Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association has announced the third batch of travel agencies that are qualified to operate Taiwan travel business after mainland tourists visiting Taiwan on July 18, 2010 when Taiwan has opened for mainland tourists for two years. The 18 travel agencies are distributed accross Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, and Xinjiang. So far, altogether 164 mainland agencies are qualified to operate Taiwan travel.

From January to September 2010, there were 41.58 million inbound overnight visits to China, an increase of 11% compared with the same period of 2009; foreign exchange earnings has reached USD33.7 billion, an increased by 16%; Chinese citizens made 42.28 million outbound visits, an increase of 21%, and 1.59 billion domestic visits, an increase of 10%; and revenue from domestic travel has reached USD142.8 billion, an increase of 24%.

Hong Kong Enhances Supervision of Inbound Tourism
The Hong Kong Tourism Administration and industrial organizations announced in the middle of 2010 that they will enhance the supervision of inbound tourism.

More and more mainland citizens have been visiting Hong Kong in recent years, meanwhile complaints against tourism services by mainland tour groups have also been increasing. According to statistics from the Hong Kong Travel Industry Council, there were 173 complaints from mainland tour groups from January to May 15, 2010, an increased of 65% over the same period of 2009.

HKTIC has established a special team to review problems with the operation of mainland tour groups. The Hong Kong Government also promises to cooperate with mainland tourism administrations to enhance the supervision of tourism. HKTIC has issued its latest directive, stipulating that travel agents must state in the itineraries distributed to visitors that tourist guides must not coerce visitors into making purchases or remaining inside registered shops. The directive came into effect on June 18, 2010. Tour guides must give out the itineraries to tour group members the moment they reach Hong Kong, and the itinerary must include the name of local travel agency and contact details, as well as personal data of the tour guide such as name, Tourist Guide Pass number, and phone number. The itinerary must also include detailed information about the tour such as dining, accommodation, transport, sightseeing, travel, and shopping. It should also state in the notes on the itinerary that tour guides must not coerce tourists into make purchases or remaining inside registered shops. If tourists are not satisfied with the products they have bought, they can apply for a refund within six months of when the products were bought.

Tourism Infrastructure Construction Booms
Opinions on Accelerating the Development of Tourism Industry has made sure that China will make use of various resources to strengthen the construction of tourism infrastructure to enable Chinese people to enjoy quality tourism products. In 2010 many tourism enterprises in many cities have increased investment in tourism infrastructure to build high-grade tourism projects.

In Yichang, the government will invest CNY150 billion to build the Three Gorges international tourism destination during the twelfth five-year plan period, making Yichang a globally-known international tourism city. It is reported that Yichang is constructing the Three Gorges National Tourist Resort as a major project of the Three Gorges international tourism destination plan. This resort will cover the Yangtze Xiling Gorge region, from Gezhouba in the east to Zigui County in the west. Besides sightseeing, Yichang will also develop vacation, rafting, cultural experiences, and business conference and exhibitions.

Exhibition & Travel Group (China) has invested in a large urban complex project in southern Chengdu. This project has a gross floor area of more than 1.5 million square meters, and will be the largest single building in the world. It will have an ocean park, a shopping center, a central business area, a five-star hotel, and other projects: and it will be the largest complex operating entity in southern Chengdu.

In Chongqing, Chongqing Traffic & Tourism Investment Group Co., Ltd has announced that it invest CNY5 trillion over three years for the integration of tourism resources and the construction of ttourism infrastructure. The city is expecting ten more five-star hotels, and a five-star luxury cruise-vessel costing CNY100 million will be launched its first voyage on the Wujiang River and Ayi River.