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Improving tourism market attracts more foreign visitors

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-10-08 09:31

For Philip Masleid, who married a Chinese woman three years ago, taking a tour in China once a year has become a regular schedule.

Charmed by the country's diverse landscapes, the American young man was also deeply impressed by some inconveniences during his China tours.

"The most frustrating moment is when you can't find toilet paper in public restrooms at some scenic spots," said Masleid.

He is not the only foreigner who has such unpleasant experiences.

According to a recent survey conducted by China Tourism Academy among foreign travelers, respondents had relatively low satisfaction with tourism environment, public services and the sense of security during their tours.

China's first tourism law took effect on Oct. 1. The law aims to regulate the country's tourism market and upgrade the sector's services, to boost the industry.

It bans profits from hidden traveler costs, such as mandatory shopping outings and says scenic spots are not allowed to receive tourists exceeding their capacities, and these should be made public.

China has rich cultural resources and natural sceneries, yet the country's tourist industry still lags behind the world's mature tourist markets, said Dai Xuefeng, a tourism analyst with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

A World Economic Forum report released in March showed that China ranked the 45th in terms of travel and tourism competitiveness among 140 economies that were assessed.

The new law has made specific requirements on how to improve the country's tourism public services system, the security environment and the industry self-regulation, said Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy.

According to Dai Bin, the country should improve a comprehensive tourism coordination mechanism, strengthen market supervision and promote industry self-regulation.

In the past seven-day National Day holiday, problems such as overcrowding and bad habits of tourists such as throwing garbage in scenic spots, indicate the improvement needs the active participation of every tourist and better management of authorities.

The law will greatly enhance the awareness of China's local authorities in protecting the interests of tourists, as it has made clear that the government is responsible for the supervision of local tourism safety, Dai Bin said.

Meanwhile, governments are required to include the tourism industry into local development plans, meaning that greater efforts will be made to improve infrastructure and public services in order to foster local tourism industry.

In addition, foreign tourists will find it easier to file their complaints against fraudulent conducts, as the law requires that local authorities designate or set up agencies to handle complaints, Dai Bin added.

Analysts believe these moves will boost the country's tourism market and improve China's status as one of the world's most attractive tourist destinations.

China hosted about 133 million overseas tourists last year, according to the National Tourism Administration. The country is estimated to host 200 million overseas tourist arrivals by 2020.

According to the country's tourism development plan, tourism will become a strategic pillar industry by 2015 and basically meet international advanced standards in terms of the sector's scale, quality and efficiency by 2020.

Wang Jiansheng, head of the tourism development research association in southern province of Hainan, said China's efforts to improve the tourism sector will help create a safe and secure environment for foreign tourists.

"There is great potential for the country to expand inbound tourist market," said Zhai Ning, general manager of Hainan Chenda International Travel Agency.

"Domestic tourist operators should focus more on innovating tourist products and enhancing services quality," he said.

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