A visit to the stores where the sky is no limit

By Xu Lin ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-11-28 07:29:51

But paying inordinately low sums to go on a group tour can only come at a cost, he says, including poor service and the risk of shopping scams because businesses will find ways of making a profit.

"We get people asking us for tours on the cheap, not realizing that if you want good service you have to pay for it," Wang says.

Xie agrees and says it is has become more difficult to cheat tourists because the Internet is a huge repository of information with which one can compare products and prices.

Li Xinjian, a professor at the School of Management at Beijing International Studies University, says China should work with overseas government departments to do something about shopping traps, fake products and forced shopping on tours. Tourism bureaus need to be able to advise Chinese tourists how to safeguard their rights, he says.

The huge flow of Chinese visitors to many countries provides great economic opportunities for all of them, he says, and it is up to everybody to find a way to manage this flow with all its ramifications in an orderly way.

As part of that, the Chinese government needs to constantly remind its citizens traveling abroad to respect local customs, protect the environment and refrain from improper behavior, Chiang says.

Apart from the Chinese who combine shopping and travel, buying products in huge quantities and mailing them to China has become a lucrative business for many Chinese living overseas.

Partly because of such people, some supermarkets in several European countries have imposed limits on how much infant formula any single customer can buy. Demand in China for foreign-made formula took off in 2008 after a scandal involving tainted domestic milk powder in which six infants died and nearly 300,000 became ill.

"Chinese don't buy overseas stuff just because it's cheaper, although that is one main reason," Chiang says. "Many are reassured when they buy foreign goods because they don't really trust domestic goods. Chinese companies need to think about this and do something to change it."

Li says: "Many government departments such as the Ministry of Commerce need to work together to improve the image related to the quality of domestic products."

To keep shoppers in China, something needs to be done about price differentials by improving tariff and duty free store systems, he says.

"Of course when Chinese go shopping overseas they are going to spend a lot of money on transport, accommodation and dining. If we cut import duties we will obviously lose revenue, but at the same time the spending I have just mentioned will be done at home rather than abroad."

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