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Zou Tongqian: How to Crack Hard Nuts of Tourism Regulation and Govern “a Fish and a Prawn”?
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: March 12nd, 2021

(Original from, September 24th, 2019:

Shanghai Disney Resort being accused of rummaging tourists’ bags without permission, Qiao’s Grand Courtyard being delisted because of over-commercialization, sky-high meal price in airports being repeatedly criticized and slashed…Tourism has become a part of daily life when living standards improves, and consumers have been cultivating right-protection awareness. Meanwhile, we’re thinking that the fact tourists can’t be free from being cheated but can only defend rights afterward is fundamentally caused by regulatory function loss. How to solve these problems through supervision improvement? With these questions, reporters at interviewed Zou Tongqian, a professor at Beijing International Studies University and the head of China Academy of Culture & Tourism.

Only a Temporary Solution

Whats the Fundamental Reason for Dislocation in Tourism Market?

As tourism develops rapidly in China nowadays, big changes have taken place in the situation of supervision. With historic achievements and changes in tourism, China has become the world’s largest country in outbound and domestic tourism, the fourth country in inbound tourism. In 2018, domestic traveler numbers reached 5.539 billion, inbound and outbound travelers 291 million. Annual travel sales were 5.97 trillion yuan. 9.94 trillion yuan contributed to GDP, accounting for 11.04% of the total GDP volumes. China is marching in a strong tourism country from a large tourism country; its market supervision is changing a lot. Supervising target has changed to a great number of enterprises and people from a small amount of it; supervision is exercised in multi-industry rather than in a single industry, cross-region rather than a local area; the methods have changed from field investigation to online work. The traditional regulation system failed to keep pace with the rapid growth of domestic tourism and the changing obvious contradictions.

Zou told that the chaotic tourism market greatly reduced people’s sense of happiness. The market boosts, but the chaos never stops and fails to be prohibited, such as unregistered taxi, hotel, tour guide, and negative League tourism fare, which results in quite a negative impact. A Qingdao prawn for 38 yuan destroyed the brand of Friendly Shandong which cost hundreds of millions of yuan. Sky-high fish in Harbin ruined the good name of Heilongjiang tourism. “Unscrupulous snow land” became famous for overcharging tourists for months. Mafengwo, a tourism platform, fabricated tourism data and threatened the market integrity. These negative issues sound familiar to everyone. Zou shook his head and said, “It’s very hard for a brand to grow up. Excellent quality, unique features, and good advertisement are needed. However, it’s so easy to destroy a brand: one negative event is enough.” Indeed, among numerous competitors at home and abroad, it’s difficult for a brand to fight its way out. It’s easy to ignite “public anxiety” and destroy its reputation over the years due to the concentrated outbreak of chaos in the tourism industry which easily happens in tourist season and flies at the speed of light thanks to the Internet.

Introduce New Polices

Industry Supervision Forges Ahead

Nowadays, the standard of living increased and tourism industry grows at a rapid pace. Industry regulation has achieved remarkable results but still exists system defects in its management mechanism. Zou pointed out that the regulatory system at present was flawed in vague position, distributed configuration, multiple sources of supervision; most actions are quick and movable which results in paperwork; measures and technologies are lagged, short in predictive ability and mechanism; the lack of flexibility in the system brings on disorder or listlessness when the regulation went into effect.

Zou has established a preliminary framework to improve the regulatory mechanism of the tourism market which has been put into practice. “We’re now compiling Report on China Tourism Market Development and Regulation. It’ll be published next year,” Zou said. Huge changes have been taken place in the tourism industry because of the growth of new technology, and digital regulation has sprung up. But there’s not a report to comprehensively analyze the history of market regulation in the past 41 years and its future trend. Report on China Tourism Market Development and Regulation hails a new start in market supervision practices, enabling to “provide wisdom and guidance, preserve the history” for the tourism market regulation.

Market chaos is ultimately caused by the immature development of the market. The nature of tourism market regulation lies in regulating, guaranteeing, and promoting the market order, which protect consumers’ rights to step up to high-quality growth of the industry. “It’s the reason why we compiled the Report. It’s also our target we strive for,” Zou smiled and said, “there’s a long way to go.”

No Fear in Enterprises

Tourism Market Will Be More Transparent

In Zou’s prediction, Report on China Tourism Market Development and Regulation will analyze tourism market regulation in an overall and comprehensive way and sum up the newest problems, technologies, and concepts. Its essence lies not only in regulation but also in seeking changes while preserving stability, concerning both the development and profits of a tourism enterprise. The comprehensive research report is for the public and serves the government, concentrating on the current situation, problem analysis, and future outlook of the tourism market. Depending on its synthetic analysis on market regulation, it can protect tourism consumers’ rights in a better way and help the high-quality growth of the industry.

According to Zou, the nature of tourism market regulation lies in regulating, guaranteeing, and promoting the market order. In the long run, high-quality growth of the industry depends on a fair environment and good order of competition. However, in practice, a part of regulation lacks scientific design, and quick and movable action can only solve external problems wasting both energy and money. The lack of flexibility in the system brings on disorder or listlessness when the regulation goes into effect. For example, Yunnan province used the harshest-ever 22 articles to rectify and administer market chaos while undermined market vitality at the same time. “Market needs trial-and-error. Authorities in charge should be open-minded and courageous to accept mistakes,” Zou said.

The Report is a news constraint on tourism enterprises. When asked whether the Report impacts OTA a lot and brings about the bottleneck of regulation on relevant enterprises, Zou laughed and said that we should be “confident” of tourism enterprises. OTA will adjust along with the improvement of industry regulation. As long as they abide by the rule, plug holes in the process, and perfect measurements of platforms, the Report won’t “freak them out”.

Zou pointed out that the main reason for market chaos is information asymmetry. The Report is set to promote the openness of information of tourism enterprises. The transparent market information makes it easier and more comfortable for tourists to choose, purchase, use products and protect their rights. Relative enterprises should closely follow national policies and study files to regulate the market, set up their codes of business conduct according to national and local instructions. In the meantime, they should also accelerate their innovation on management, products, and services to better compete with each other.

Zou also said that the government can screen out effective complaints and filter out invalid information when protecting the rights of both consumers and enterprises. Take the 12301 national smart tourism public service platform as an example. By all-media interaction, tourists and staff interact with each other on the platform. It omnidirectional collects travel complaints all over the country and solves them effectively by the mechanism of “platform receives – local solves”. Furthermore, with the quick progression of AI, many other technologies including natural language processing and deep learning can be used in complaints screening to facilitate smart and accurate analysis.

“5G” Is to Be Available

New Business Form and Tech Spur Improvement and Growth in Tourism Market Regulation

Zou provided insight into the exertion of new technologies in the regulation. According to him, new technologies such as AI will push forward for information and intelligence growth in market regulation which can cover more areas. Zou pointed out that a time of technology is coming; supervisory platforms may cooperate with industrial, commercial, public security, and bank system to supervise market players by monitoring transactions. Government should provide information service and support regulatory platform on management, service, and operation, helping solve the problem of market lacking credibility.

Zou took Hainan as an example. Hainan once was the disaster area of complaints about tourism consumption, and Sanya tourism growth was disturbed by opaque seafood prices. Governing “a fish and a prawn” is a test of social governance ability. Sanya municipal government reformed boldly: build a platform by using the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and big data to collect and supervise real-time tourism consumption data from quantity to unit price. The platform connects government, sellers, and consumers with a scale and a cash register, monitoring them online and afterward. With the consumption supervision system, the government connected scattered shopping stores in series, and the disposal rate of warnings has almost reached 100%. In this way, residents and tourists can consume at ease, enterprises become more competitive in a fairer market. And most of all, it played an indispensable role in restoring the image of the city as a travel destination.

Zou said that information of market entities can be collected by AI platform and sorted out in an information panorama where tourists, staff, products, areas, and other industries connect. A model can be built by an AI platform to help take shape of rules and features of business activities, notice clues of violation and illegal activities in time and improve the pre-judging ability. It’s able to find, warn and cope with problems as soon as possible, reduce and prevent ineffective regulation, enhance the pertinence of tourism market supervision and enforcement. “5G technology will help the world to connect. With the technical support, the responding speed of tourism market regulation will outpace the reaction of the human brain. It’ll be easier for the industrial supervision to break the time and regional limit and get more effective, convenient, and smarter,” Zou said.

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