Tackling unethical business practices is a top priority for the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), as well as destination stakeholders who wish to effectively compete for the emerging China (PRC) mega-market.

“PATA’s view is that the healthy growth of the emerging Chinese outbound market requires partnership and co-operation; continuous attention and collective effort; between the public sector and private sector, as well as between Chinese authorities and approved destinations,” said PATA Regional Director - China Ms Kate Chang.

Ms Chang told delegates participating in the PATA-Nielsen China (PRC) Outbound intelligence workshop at PATA Travel Mart 2007 today that in working together with destinations such as Hong Kong, the CNTA was already cracking down on zero-cost tours.

At home, CNTA has set up a web page for consumers to register their complaints. Nearly 900 complaints about outbound tours were logged in
2006 (78% more than 2005), and from January-June this year, Chinese travellers had logged 466 complaints.

Complaints pertained to shopping tours, quality standards, hidden costs, accommodation standards, shortcuts in tour programmes, and surcharges for younger or older tour members (those perceived to have less purchasing power for arranged shopping tours).

“Given the growth in the number of outbound trips taken by Chinese travellers the number of complaints seems very small,” said Ms Chang.
“However, according to Chinese culture, people do not like to complain unless it is a big deal to them.”

To help reduce the number of complaints, CNTA has formulated an official contract template to guide Chinese citizens in their dealings with tour operators.

CNTA has also published an official price guide for 17 common outbound tour routes to help travellers identify reasonable all-inclusive value.

Chinese tourists can now travel to 132 approved destinations, 91 of which are already receiving tour groups from China.

“Competition is hotting up and one of the ‘dream’ destinations for many Chinese, the US, is now in negotiations with the CNTA for Approved Destination Status” said Ms Chang.

For destinations competing for Chinese travellers, reputation based on honesty, quality and value will be a critical factor for success.