The new tourism law, aimed at protecting consumers, might hurt travel agents on the short run, but destinations can benefit, if they play their cards right, says tourism expert Roy Graff in the Travelmole.com. Independent travel is on the rise.
The complaints by tourists about being pressured to shop, being charged unreasonable amounts for various optional activities and excursions is what led the government to enact this law. What is less easy to acknowledge is that Chinese WANT to go shopping abroad and spend more than 60% of their trip budget on shopping. This will not change because of the law, but it may lead to better choices in where and what to shop. We should not forget that the shopping business has massively contributed to this problem by offering generous commissions to tour guides and tour leaders that can earn an astute guide several times their actual salary of guiding fee.
In the short term, we can safely assume that travel agencies in China will try to follow the law and avoid discounting the tours, writing ‘free time’ in the itinerary instead of ‘shopping time’. When the consumers start evaluating the real cost of a tour and checking the alternatives, I believe that we will see big shift to self-organised and independent travel. This trend is already happening in SE Asia and will be speeded up thanks to this law.
Destinations that can spot this opportunity and are able to capitalise on it quickly, will win the affections of the new breed of independent Chinese travellers. I am not speaking just about wealthy Chinese travellers or business people. The new generation of FIT are backpackers, couples, professionals in white-collar jobs. They can figure their way around in English but prefer to use Chinese where possible.
Last Sunday China opened its Shanghai Free Trade Zone. At the +China Weekly Hangout of October 3 we will explore some of the directions of China’s new policies, despite a huge amount of ambiguity in the current rules. You can read our initial announcement here, or register here for the event.
What do Chinese tourists want? – China Weekly Hangout. Roy Graff of ChinaContact joined us on June 20 to discuss the increasingly diversifying market of Chinese tourists. And yes, there is no longer one answer for basic questions. Moderation by Fons Tuinstra of the China Speakers Bureau.