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Wang Xingbin: Radical Solution for Qiao’s Grand Courtyard Needs Integration across and beyond the “Wall”
来源:中国文化和旅游产业研究院 日期:2021-06-02 浏览次数: 字号:[ ]

Source: China Academy of Culture & Tourism Date: August 19th, 2019

After closing and “pondering over mistakes” for 10 days, Qiao’s Grand Courtyard reopened. Since August 17th, the ticket price was reduced 23 yuan to 155 yuan per person. Guo Fengsheng, the deputy director of Qi County Bureau of Culture and Tourism, told Beijing Business Today that over-commercialized areas in Qiao's have been thoroughly screened, all shops, photo services occupying roads and business activities including performances in “Four Halls and One Garden” haven been shut down; markets at exits have been completely demolished. “These measurements didn’t change the business model of a traditional sightseeing scenic spot. Getting rid of the dependence on ticket income needs ‘a fundamental solution’,” Guo said. A source told Beijing Business Today that Qiao’s is pushing on with building comprehensive supporting projects in the surrounding areas such as culture and tourism towns which includes commercial pedestrian zones, film bases and services about catering and accommodation.

10 Days to Rectify

At the end of July, an announcement from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism put Qiao’s in hot water. Qiao’s became a scenic spot being punished “to the maximum” rarely and delisted from the 5A scenery spot list in recent years, which made it the center of attention. Two weeks ago, the Publicity Department of the County Committee in Qi county, Jinzhong city, Shanxi province posted a Weibo text that Qiao’s will close and rectify for 10 days.

Qiao’s reopened and updated its ticket prices on August 17th. According to the announcement from Shanxi Qiao’s Grand Courtyard Tourism Inc., its ticket will be reduced to 115 yuan per person, students, children and the old should pay the half price of 58 yuan.

Meanwhile, Guo also introduced other measurements of rectification to Beijing Business Today. Specifically, as for the severely criticized over-commercialization, Qiao’s have thoroughly shut down shops, photo services occupying roads and business activities including performances in “Four Halls and One Garden”. It’s estimated that 29 shops have been shut down, 1050 m² of space have been vacated, commercial advertisements of Qu’s Grand Courtyard and estate at exits have been completely removed in an area of 270 m². Besides, Qiao’s also demolished the 4600 m² markets at exits. “In order to strengthen the order around the spot, 30 polices for tourism work in a team to inspect continuously so as to improve the order along the 208 Tourism Road, where Qiao’s and Qianchao Valley locate. They’ll crack down and clean up the dislocation of random parking, private booths and stopping cars to attract customers,” Guo said.

Some tourists complained about the parking lot with irregular management and charge. Guo introduced that Qiao’s has opened a new ecological parking lot available for 700 cars and 60 buses; the east gate opened a new exit with a newly built square of more than 1000 m²; 6 electric tour cars provide free traffic service in the scenic spot.

Only a Temporary Solution

Many tourists made positive comments on this rectification that great changes have been taken place in the spot. However, it’s just a “temporary solution” according to some experts that the decline in the ticket price was lower than expected and the measurements haven’t reached the core of the business model.

“Compared with other 5A spots in China, the reduced price of Qiao’s remains high. It’s more than double the Palace Museum in peak period. The business condition and specific situation differ in different scenic spots, but from the visitors’ point of view, this kind of discount flunked from the sincerity level,” an online comment shows. Reports said that Ling Yunzhi, the deputy director of the management office at Qiao’s, responded that Qiao’s would adjust the ticket price according to low and peak season in the future. Beijing Business Today checked it with Guo who didn’t give an affirmative answer though.

According to Wang Xingbin, a senior researcher at China Academy of Culture & Tourism, Beijing International Studies University, this kind of soft decline of ticket price reflects its heavy dependence on ticket income at present. “Some tourists will come back in a short time because of fewer shops and ticket discounts. If Qiao’s wants to make a real difference in the traditional business model of a sightseeing-type spot and attract visitors to stay longer, the operator of Qiao’s and the local culture and tourism department should change the development path fundamentally,” Wang said. Now the order in the scenic zone has been rectified, but it’s only a scenery spot costing 2 or 3 hours for tourists in their journey plan. In the villages and towns “beyond the wall”, catering, accommodation and business facilities are in a mess and seemingly have nothing to do with the cultural and historical background in the sightseeing zone.

What beyond the Wall Is the Key

What’s the fundamental solution to Qiao’s? Insiders of the industry suggest a reference to Pingyao Ancient City. It’s reported that the Qi County Bureau of Culture and Tourism has used Pingyao as a sample to learn how to establish and maintain a brand with events and festivals. “Pingyao has planned an International Photography Exhibition which shown an obvious stimulation effect,” an official in charge of the Bureau said.

Wang put forward a different point of view. According to him, Pingyao put spots and business service inside the scenic zone, connecting tourists and the zone with a “wall”, while Qiao’s divides the zone from its supporting facilities by a “wall”; what Qiao’s need to do is pay more attention to imperceptibly breaking the “wall” and stop the isolation. In Wang’s opinion, Qiao’s should fully integrate across the zone and beyond, use the outside supporting part as an extension of the inside historical and cultural features. It can set up scenic facilities where visitors can participate and experience, and build a comprehensive culture and leisure town that keeps up with the demands of eating, housing, traffic and travel. In this way, the single pattern of a sightseeing zone can be fundamentally changed.

In fact, as for the commercial layout beyond the “wall”, Guo revealed to Beijing Business Today that there’s a project of “culture and tourism towns”. He said that the construction garbage clearance and site preparation in the rectification provide a guarantee for this project.

Beijing Business Today checked out that last month a piece of investment information has been released silently on the Qi county governmental official website: Comprehensive Supporting Project for Qiao’s Grand Courtyard in Qi county (II). According to the announcement, there’s a comprehensive project outside Qiao’s with a total investment of 2 billion yuan which covers an area of 2400 mu (about 160 hectares). The construction includes supporting facilities such as comprehensive leisure and tourism service areas, agricultural tourism picking gardens, film bases, antique markets, commercial pedestrian streets, specialty catering and hotels. The “Qiao’s Grand Courtyard Culture and Tourism Town” has appeared in the project. It’s worth noting that in the announcement its benefit is predicted mainly from ecological tourism, agricultural sightseeing and health-keeping tourism.

In Wang’s opinion, according to the present business situation of Qiao’s, this project places great demands on the operating entity which should be capable of the integration of economic benefit of neighbors and putting scattered facilities together as a whole. Therefore, whether Qiao’s can thoroughly transform and upgrade depends on how to cooperate inside and outside.

Source: Beijing Business Today (Author Affiliation: China Academy of Culture & Tourism, Beijing International Studies University)

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