China / Society

Tourist ticket prices controversial ahead of holiday

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-27 21:10

BEIJING -- The approach of the National Day holiday has reignited a familiar tourist controversy: the seemingly inexorable rise in entry fees to top Chinese scenic spots.

Danxia Mountain in south China's Guangdong orovince, raised ticket prices to 200 yuan ($33) per person on Sept 1, from the former 160 yuan in low seasons and 180 yuan in peak seasons.

Yulong Snow Mountain in Southwest China's Yunnan province also announced on Sept. 16 that it would raise prices from 105 yuan to 130 yuan from May.

Many local authorities, lacking industry or other commerce, are reliant on tourism revenues for income. The situation can make it expensive to enjoy leisure time in the country.

According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the average price of admission to 5A scenic spots, those officially classed as the best, stands at 109 yuan.

Each Chinese spent an annual average of 806 yuan on tours last year, with tickets accounting for nearly 14 percent of the travel expenditure, data from the China National Tourism Administration shows. For rural residents, a single ticket could cost more than 20 percent of their travel expenses in a year.

The companies have attributed the hikes to rising labor costs and restrictions on visitor numbers due to pressure to protect the environment.

However, Chinese Internet users said these were excuses for profiteering, complaining that the prices of some attractions are higher than than that of the world-renowned Louvre Museum. Some even called for a boycott of unreasonably expensive spots.

In 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission issued a rule that scenic spots could only adjust their ticket prices once every three years.

The central government has been mulling new measures to settle the ticket price dispute, the latest one of which is subsidies to 5A sites.

But government regulation cannot completely resolve the problem, as many spots are managed by private, independent companies.

Ruan Yisan, a professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, said ticket prices should ultimately be decided by the market.

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