12 September, 2013

China's New Tourism Law

To fight the recent ever-rising tourist complaints and travel service disputes, China is soon to put into effect the first Tourism Law on October 1 this year.  

The release of the new regulation has cast a deep impact on the country's travel agency business and recent travelling plans of mainland residents. Chinese mainstream media say all travel agencies are adjusting their package tour pricing and track immediately after the news broke out. 

In Zhongshan, Province Guangzhou, outbound travel prices in October have soared abruptly across the city. The most striking increase has seen those sightseeing lines that tour around Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, one of the most favored tours of mainland residents, especially the generation of medium and low-income youths. One classic Bangkok-to-Pattaya 6-day route almost doubles, reaching 6,899 CNY on average from 3,499 CNY in September. 

Despite the rising package tour costs, good news for massive Chinese tourists is that they may be hereafter free from the ubiquitous pushing-to-go-shopping harassment of local tour guides who earn so small base pay that they grow so intent on getting commissions from any souvenirs tourists buy.

Provisions are made explicit in the new law that regulate and strike forced or cheated shopping along the trip, random schedule changes, uninformed ticket price increase, false travel ads and propaganda, and extra spot charges (or tips). 

However, experts in this industry still question what enforcement measures will be adopted to address the actual violations.

Another interesting issue churned up in the new law has related to the outbound Chinese tourists' uncivilized conducts. From the earliest Hong Kong subway dining disputes to Chinese teen graffiti at Egyptian Luxor Temple this May, and up to the latest Rome Colosseum daylight stool and Chinese cigarette case littering in Palau dive spot, vulgar trails left by the country's not sober new monies must have humiliated lawmaker themselves so much that they specify one particular clause, preaching "compliance with social order and ethics, respecting local customs and cultural traditions and preservation of tourist resources". 

Will the fresh rules make a real difference and reshape images of both mainland tourism and Chinese tourist sightseeing? Let's see.

-- By Lizzy Liu, at asteroid_liu@126.com