China / Hot Issues

Top tourist attractions drop ticket prices

By Tan Zongyang (China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-30 07:50

More tourist attractions nationwide have slashed ticket prices before the eight-day Golden Week holidays, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Saturday.

The NDRC announced on its website that 94 tourist attractions nationwide have dropped ticket prices by 25 percent on average, and four of them will offer free access to the public in the future.

The move will offer tourists cheaper access to more of the country's scenic areas during the national vacation starting on Sunday, which combines National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Last week, the NDRC said 80 scenic spots nationwide had dropped their ticket prices by 37 percent on average.

However, most of those tourist attractions are not among the most popular sites, which sparked huge controversy on the Internet as people questioned whether the hot scenic spots should cut their ticket prices or offer free trips to the public.

On Saturday, the NDRC also announced that 14 of the 5A class tourism attractions - the nation's top tourist attractions - will lower prices temporarily during the national holidays.

Those attractions include the Three Gorges Dam scenic area in Hubei province, the Yulong Snow Mountain scenic area in Lijiang, Yunnan province, and two Danxia landform scenic areas in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

"Although the prices are only slightly lower than before, the policy is going in the right direction," said Wang Guohua, a tourism expert at Beijing University of Technology.

Wang said domestic tourist attraction ticket prices are too high for most people, especially when compared with developed countries, where the annual average income is higher.

For example, the one-day entrance fee (including bus service) for Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve in Sichuan province is 310 yuan ($49.30), double that of Yellow Stone Natural Park in the United States which provides visitors with a seven-day permit.

Wang added that ticket prices for the country's tourism sites have increased sharply in recent years, while tourist attractions abroad, such as Disneyland Park in the US, have remained stable for years.

"One of the reasons for the high prices is that tourist attractions are still viewed in a traditional manner, focusing on sightseeing trips, a business mode that relies too much on revenue from entrance tickets rather than tourism-related services."

Wang said the price decreases have sent a strong signal that authorities will curb the trend of price increases, especially during major holidays, while encouraging scenic spots to improve management and service standards to attract more tourists.

"More measures, not limited to the government controlling prices, should be implemented to ensure ticket prices return to a normal level, in line with people's incomes."

This year, the government ruled that small passenger cars with less than seven seats will be exempted from highway tolls during the eight-day holiday for the first time, which will reduce prices to those driving and stimulate the domestic tourism industry.

China Tourism Academy estimates Chinese people will make 362 million trips during the longer-than-usual holiday from Sept 30 to Oct 7, up 20 percent compared with the same period last year.

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