… And other notes on the world’s largest tourism source market.
● For travel suppliers and DMOs from the United States and most other nations in the world, the view of China that seems to prevail is near-term, because of the travails of the day—right now, it means little marketing because of a global pandemic, although it could be a professed worry about crime in the U.S. and the fear it stirs among Chinese travelers—and other concerns of a near-term nature.
Those who seek to bring more Chinese travelers to the United States embrace a short-term view or strategic vision of how to work the market should dispose of the notion. Why? Following below is, word-for-word, a notice released the week before last by China’s State Council.
“The State Council* announced a development plan for the tourism sector during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025) in a circular on Thursday.
“By 2025, China will have a stronger modern system for the tourism sector integrating cultural development and boasting an improved barrier-free environment and services, according to the circular.
“By 2035, the country aims to become a world tourism powerhouse, with a wider variety of tourist hot spots, including national cultural parks, world-class tourist attractions and resorts, and state-level cities and blocks serving tourism and leisure, it added.
“Modern tourism requires supply-side structural reform, high-quality tourism products, and integration with other industries, the circular said.
“It involves promoting smart tourism with digital, networked and intelligent scenarios and expanding the application of new technologies in tourism.
“Tourism development, the circular said, should pursue harmonious co-existence with nature in steadily building national cultural parks and national parks, protecting historical resources, based on general surveys of Chinese cultural resources, and natural resources.
“To advance mass tourism and consumption, preferential policies, services, and public infrastructure should keep up with emerging development patterns such as contactless tourism and consumption.
“A modern tourism governance system should be in place for handling tourist complaints to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests, emergency responses, as well as prevention and control of major
risks from disasters and accidents,” according to the circular.
(The source for the above is the Xinhua News Agency, or New China News Agency, official state press agency of the PRC.)
* The State Council is the chief administrative authority of the People’s Republic of China. In plain parlance, it is the organization with ties to the Chinese Communist Party. It manages the day-to-day business of the central government and oversees the activities of local governments. It more or less handles things between the quinquennial Chinese Party Congresses. The next Congress will take place this autumn in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
● Notes on the significance of the circular: Think long-term.
This five-year plan will follow the previous five-year plan, which acknowledged the importance of tourism (mostly domestic tourism) to the nation’s economy. By then, tourism had become seen as an instrument of economic stimulus and development, as it encourages consumer spending for products that do not require as much infrastructure as do most consumer products such as apparel, automobiles, cycles and other tangibles.
The determination to become a tourism “superstar” bodes well over the long-term for U.S. travel suppliers and DMOs looking to host Chinese visitors. Frictions and/or tensions between the United States and China notwithstanding, Chinese travelers like the U.S. enough that they will likely comprise the third largest source market for overseas visitors to the USA once there is a full year of recovery behind us.
And we like one another. More evidence that Chinese visitors like the USA, and should like it for some time to come: Even with the pandemic operating full throttle during the past school year (2020-2021), more than 317 thousand Chinese were enrolled colleges and universities in the United States. Tourism professionals like to point out that foreign students who study at universities in the United States become, in effect, ambassadors for the USA.
Among those ambassadors could be Xi Jinping’s daughter, Xi Mingze, graduated from Harvard University in 2014.
Another fact that illustrates the importance of a long-term view is the relationship that America has with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi first visited the U.S.—specifically, Iowa—in 1985 when he was part of a delegation conducting a two-week study of U.S. agriculture. He apparently formed a bond of sorts with Iowa after staying with an Iowa family. Xi returned for another visit to Maxwell, Iowa 30 years later and visited the same family. All totaled, Xi has visited the U.S. on seven occasions.
Does all of the above suggest that it will benefit tourism to the United States?
Well, it shouldn’t hurt, should it?