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Smart tourism plan to focus on digital technologies

By Su Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-08 07:36

The top tourism authority has introduced new initiatives to support transportation and promote digital technologies to ensure the travel and leisure industries keep pace with changing consumer trends and advances in technology.

The China National Tourism Administration released its five-year plan on smart tourism on Tuesday, which states that all 4A and 5A-rated scenic spots in China will be able to provide online booking services, electronic tour guides and free Wi-Fi to all tourists by 2020.

In addition, tour buses, cruise ships and scenic spots with large numbers of tourists will have real-time monitoring systems set up to address security concerns.

Xue Yaping, spokesman for the administration, said the plan was drafted due to the changing habits of tourists.

"China has entered a new era of mass tourism. By 2020, the number of overall visits made each year by Chinese tourists is expected to reach 6.7 billion," Xue said.

"Tourism consumption will be more diversified, including family tours, self-planned tours, high-end tours that require high-quality services, and leisure tours that provide unique experiences. We must utilize modern technology and adjust the tourism service model to meet the growing demand for detailed travel services and products," he said.

According to the plan, digital technologies will be adopted to improve tourists' experiences, from smart hotels offering check-in via mobile devices to real-time collection of tourist data for tailoring personalized hotel or sightseeing services.

Chen Jin, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics' School of Information Technology and Management, said the smart tourism plan will help to develop China into an attractive tourism destination for international travelers.

"Overseas travelers tend to research travel information online before they go somewhere, but many tourism destinations in China don't pay much attention to their online image. The lack of information online does not help to attract overseas tourists," Chen said.

"For Chinese travelers, transportation will be much more convenient than before, with tourists able to access all information and pay bills via their cellphones."

Yao Hua, a frequent traveler from Changzhou, Jiangsu province, said she finds it convenient to travel in eastern China, but not so convenient in western China.

"I was born in Jiangsu and really like to visit places with different landscapes, such as the Gobi Desert," Yao said. "However, many hotels do not provide online booking services, so sometimes, I have to ask travel agencies for help when I am looking for travel information."

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