11 September 2013

China Tourism Law

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On 1 October 2013 a new ‘China Tourism Law’ will come into effect to address practices such as coercive shopping measures, low price and low quality tours.

The law applies to all tourism operators in China for domestic and international travel and contains a number of provisions designed to protect consumers.

The full English text of the China Tourism Law can be found on the official website of China National Tourism Administration: http://en.cnta.gov.cn/html/2013-6/2013-6-4-10-1-12844.html

How does the law address low quality ‘shopping tours’?

Article 35 of the law states: “Travel agencies are prohibited from organizing tourism activities and luring tourists with unreasonably low prices, or getting illegitimate gains such as rebates by arranging shopping or providing tourism services that requires additional payment. When organizing and receiving tourists, travel agencies shall not designate specific shopping places, or provide tourism services that require additional payment. However, it does not include circumstances where both sides have agreed or the tourists have requested for such arrangements and no influence is caused on the itinerary of other tourists. In case of any violation to the above two paragraphs, tourists shall have the right to, within thirty (30) days from the end of the travel, require the travel agency to return their purchases and pay the price of the returned purchases on behalf in advance, or refund the payment made for tourism services that require additional payment.”

What likely impact will the law have on Chinese inbound tourism for Australia?

Anecdotal feedback from travel agents in China indicates the removal of commissioned shopping activities from itineraries will lead to price increases on Australian package tours. As a result, there is likely to be an impact on inbound group segment in the short run. In discussions with some inbound tour operators, it was raised that Australian destinations where commissioned shopping activities have been more prevalent, such as Queensland and New South Wales, will likely be affected more than destinations such as Tasmania and South Australia. Over the medium and long term, the Law has the potential to deliver benefits to Australian tourism industry as quality of experience would improve for Chinese travellers, resulting in higher yield per visitor.

What is Tourism Australia doing to work with the industry to prepare for the China Tourism Law?

Tourism Australia works closely with all of Australia’s State and Territory tourism organisations to engage Aussie Specialists and Premier Aussie Specialist Agencies in China to promote quality itineraries. At the same time, Tourism Australia recently launched a new website dedicated to Chinese travellers, australia.cn, that engages directly with consumers and inspire free and independent travel within Australia. Tourism Australia will also include an update on the China Tourism Law in the upcoming industry briefings in Australia and will continue to communicate any further developments and advice through its weekly newsletter Essentials.

Who can I contact if I have additional questions in regard to the China Tourism Law?

Melanie Crosswell, Manager China & Tourism Quality, Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, at 02 6243 7505

Andy Jiang, Head of Asia Development, Tourism Australia, at 02 9361 1209