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Chinese outbound tourism recognition on the rise

The world’s biggest international tourism source market is also now beginning to receive the requisite media coverage to complement its significant economic stature.

HEIDE – During this month’s successful World Trade Market (WTM) in London and at September’s World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Asia Summit in Seoul, where none other than Mr Tony Blair was keynote speaker,  the Chinese Outbound Tourism market  was mentioned by almost every tourism professional or politician in workshops and business talks.  The world’s biggest international tourism source market is also now beginning to receive the requisite media coverage to complement its significant economic stature.

Such is its growing importance that felt it appropriate to ask Prof. Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, to start a blog about the day to day headlines and happenings in the world of Chinese international tourism.  The anticipated interest from the readership seems to be well-founded: The first two instalments were viewed by more than 1,500 users within the first few days of publication.  Indeed with China’s outbound tourism growth not showing any signs of slowing down, the increased scope of the industry’s media narrative is sure to continue, both along social and official channels.    

The article is as follows:

Third Plenum Not Putting Spokes Into The Wheels Of China’s Outbound Tourism Development

Nowadays National Communist Party leadership meetings   do not attract much attention in most countries,  China being the obvious exception. The tasks of the “Third Plenum of the Communist Party of China’s 18th Central Committee” between 9th-12th November were discussed extensively before the event by the international media and in boardrooms around the world.  Over the last few days so too were  the results carefully scrutinised as they became known in a trickle of news releases.

Xi Jinping, General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party as of November 2012, holds also the positions of President of the People’s Republic of China. His appointment as President in March 2013 was followed a few weeks later by the discovery of an imperial grave in Yangzhou (Jiangsu Province). This was officially declared a few days after the end of the Third Plenum as the burial place of Emperor Yangdi, second and penultimate emperor (604–618) of the Sui dynasty (581–618). The grave is rather small, which is not surprising given the fact that the emperor was strangled in a revolt by his own army and effectively lost the power of Sui, leading to the rise of the Tang dynasty. The Yangdi emperor is famous in Chinese history for initiating big infrastructure projects like the Grand Canal, and the renovation of the Great Wall.  He is also remembered for his efforts to extend the regional influence of the dynasty, resulting in success as in the case of Vietnam, but also ending in defeat as in Korea. However he is seen too as one of the worst tyrants in Chinese history, who in the end brought down the ruling family by overstretching the government’s resources and disregarding the public mood.

Looking at the results of the Third Plenum one could be tempted into thinking that the Yangdi emperor’s fate may have served as a worst case scenario for the leaders gathered to fulfill, in Xi”s words at the plenum’s close, the “strategic mission of comprehensively deepening reforms and opening-up.”.

 The reform plans announced seem to be centred around two themes: the first is that of bringing policies into line with reality.  This means an acknowledgement that:

(i) regardless of the possession of a ‘Hukou’ (residence permit) great swathes of citizens registered in rural villages are in fact part of the urban population

(ii) the One-Child Policy is now redundant in an ageing country, with many loopholes and exceptions to the rule existing already

(iii) shadow economies such as those of land ownership and private banking exist and require a legal framework   

The second focuses on the re-centralisation of power whereby:

(i) the capacity of lower government levels from detaining and punishing unruly citizens outside of proper legal procedures shall be restricted

(ii) most importantly a new State Security Committee which will, according to Chinese media, “serve as a strong platform to coordinate work related to national security and will handle domestic and foreign security challenges”, shall be established.

What does all this mean for China’s outbound tourism? The published Third Plenum results put no emphasis on the campaign against “undesirable work styles of formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance”, started in April 2013. Furthermore no new policies aimed at curbing the capacity of affluent Chinese from increasing their wealth were announced; on the contrary the establishment of further Free Trade Zones and private banks and the easing of restrictions for outbound foreign direct investment will bring new opportunities and deepen international contacts for the uppermost decile of the society who represent the biggest part of the Chinese outbound tourism source market.

So it does not appear that the results of the Third Plenum are putting  spokes into the wheels of China’s outbound tourism development. For a more thorough discussion of this question, please read my next blog.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.