Rise in ticket prices for China's scenic spots dampen tourists' enthusiasm

Rise in ticket prices for China's scenic spots dampen tourists' enthusiasm
PHOTO: China Daily/ANN

Several scenic spots in China have raised their ticket prices recently. Even some tourist attractions on the "price trusted" list by China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) plan to raise their prices as well. This has led to worries among those who travel.

According to Chinese media, noted scenic spots like the villages of Wuzhen in Zhejiang province, Maijishan Grottoes in Gansu province, Silver Cave in Guangxi province and Shanghai Wild Animal Park have developed schemes or are in preparation to hold public hearings to raise ticket prices by 10 per cent to 60 per cent in the next few months.

In recent years, ticket prices at tourist attractions in China have generally become more expensive than in other countries. In order to reform ticket prices across the nation, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced in 2007 that scenic spots wouldn't be able to make ticket price adjustments in the next three years.

However, many scenic spots' ticket prices have been rising every three years. In 2012, most of the tourist attractions finished their last price adjustment, so they are about to get a new round of price rises next year.

In the past eight years, ticket prices kept breaking records. According to a report by the Tourism Research Center in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in May, up to the end of 2014, the average price of all the 186 5A-level scenic spots in China was 112 yuan (S$24.60).

Although Chinese tourists complain that it's too expansive to travel in the country for a long time, tourist attraction administrators consider the price rises really reasonable.

In a telephone interview with China National Radio, a female customer-service worker of Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai confirmed that they planned to raise the ticket price by 10 per cent in 2016.

"The cost of everything in the country is increasing all the way, so it's quite normal for us to raise the ticket price as well. Anyway, a ten per cent rise in price is not that much for tourists," she explained.

According to some Chinese scholars, in some cities of the country, it is understandable to raise the ticket prices because of the rapid economic development, pressure of cost recovery for enterprises, better environmental protection or improvement of service quality. However, the administrators have to offer authentic financial statements, and be examined and verified by a credible third party.

Wang Yanyong, a professor of the department of tourism management in Beijing Jiaotong University, said in a recent interview that ticket prices of scenic spots should be scientific and reasonable.

"If the tourist attractions can explain clearly why they need to raise prices, we can accept it without any doubt. If not, we'll resist of course," he said.

Shi Xuejun, a well-known lawyer and columnist, wrote in his article that if the scenic spots want to raise the ticket prices, there should be public hearings by price control authorities, administrators of the scenic spot and consumer representatives.

"Even if the plan is approved by public hearing, the administrators of the tourist attraction should improve their level of management as well as service, and offer tourists a safe and happy trip," he said.

While Liu Simin, vice-president of Beijing Tourism Society, also said in an interview that even tourist attractions of public resources have the right to raise the ticket price, the key is to make all the information transparent.

"Although we have public hearings before the rise (of the ticket price), it isn't transparent enough, so that consumers can't trust the result sometimes. The administrators (of the scenic spots) have to make public their prime cost of the rise, and invite a credible third party to finish the process of verification," he said.

The Chinese government intensified the strike on price fraud and confusion in management in recent years. In May, a total of 1,801 tourist attractions have been included in the "price trusted" list by China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) after agreements that using a single price, no price fraud, offering discount to special groups, advance booking privilege, publishing price component and no price rise in three years.

In early August, the State Council also published "Suggestions on Increasing Promotion of Tourism Investment and Consumption" to deepen the reform on ticket prices of scenic spots.

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