[photopress:tuirstsamerica_1.jpg,full,alignright]Sights in China are lacking sites saying what they are about. Liu Feng, assistant research fellow of the Development Research Center of the State Council, said, ‘Every tourism attraction in Beijing should build a website and make it easily accessible. When you search Google for websites introducing Beijing’s tourism spots, the top result is a small American travel service. None of the scenic spot websites are in the first 10 pages.’
Official statistics show Beijing has 121 scenic spots, 38 of which are top-ranking sites. But only 34 of the 38 have built official websites. And, according to Liu Feng, even the websites that exist are not pulling in the visitors.
With the 2008 Olympic Games fast approaching, the need for promotion is more pressing than ever. According to the administration’s estimates, 4.4 million overseas tourists will visit Beijing in 2008, spending $4.5 billion.
James Stent, CEO of WildChina, a China-based travel service firm, who is speaking, perhaps, from a position of company interest, said Beijing should hire more marketing advisers with international experience to promote Beijing and China’s image and tourism potential.
He also suggested improving the design and management of some famous tourist destinations, and strengthening protection of the old city.
He said, ‘For a long time the city has stressed the royal and religious heritage of Beijing, and overlooked the folk culture and traditions, like hutong. Part of the old town has been destroyed, but fortunately what remains is a tremendous amount to enjoy.
‘Beijing adopted an excellent, detailed plan on preservation of 25 historical districts in 2002. Now the most important thing is to implement the plan.’
All of which, apart from the preservation of historical districts, makes no sense whatsoever when viewed against known realities.
The first is that the major problem faces is not attracting visitors; it is handling them when they arrive. If, as is generally forecast, China will be the world’s biggest tourist destination sometime in the next decade, the primary problem is absolutely not to attract the visitors. It is to cater to those that do come in the best possible way.
General experience is that web sites make little or no difference when it comes to travel decisions. Yes, it can be done and it can be done very inexpensively. It will help visitors once they arrive. Generally, experience has shown it will not encourage them to come.
Work on the basis that there are 500 destinations. If good photography — important for it makes a great difference, is available — then writing and setting up 500 such sites in, say, 2007 is not a major difficulty. Getting people to visit these sites is also fairly easy to guarantee although mostly, it is known from empirical experience, that will make little difference to traveling decisions. Getting them listed high in search engines is not a great problem.
It can be argued it will improve the tourist’s experience. What it almost certainly will not do is increase the number of tourists who will come to China or make it easier to handle them in a proper and satisfactory manner. These are different problems, different priorities.
Source: China Daily