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'Forced Shopping' Tours Are Slowly Coming Back

Updated: Apr 5

An update on China's travel industry.



Group travelers to South Korea lodge complaints about forced shopping trips


It looks like low-cost, "forced shopping" packages have made their long-awaited return, in the wake of greater flight capacity and lower ticket prices from China to South Korea. Forced shopping packages are usually sold by agencies to consumers for low prices, or for free altogether, but the agency recoups profits through commissions paid by businesses that the tour guide "encourages" tourists to buy from while on holiday.


The Chinese Embassy in South Korea stated on March 8th that several tourist groups traveling to Korea recently complained about forced shopping during their travels, with some tourists being delayed by their agency in their itinerary until they agreed to shop at the designated businesses. The Chinese Embassy in South Korea issued a reminder to group tourists traveling to Korea to carefully choose travel agencies and tour products, and to be careful with unusually cheap tour products.


Tourism Australia anticipates "China once again becoming the largest source market"


"We firmly believe that more Chinese tourists will visit Australia in 2024, and we look forward to China once again becoming the largest source market for Australian tourism," said Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director and CEO of Tourism Australia, on a recent visit to Shanghai. "During the Spring Festival of the Dragon Year, various places in Australia held lively and extraordinary New Year celebrations, and the iconic Sydney Opera House was also lit up with 'Chinese Red' to celebrate the New Year with Chinese tourists," she said. "In the past year, we have worked with industry partners to actively promote the recovery of Chinese tourism to Australia in various fields such as aviation, hotels, attractions, and local connections."


2024 New Zealand Destination Greater China Roadshow officially launched


After a four-year hiatus, the New Zealand Destination Greater China Roadshow will be held in eight major cities in China this spring, covering not only Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, but also to cities such as Xiamen, Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Nanjing. New Zealand now looks to not only rebuild the connections it had before the pandemic, but to open up new markets across China.



New Zealand welcomed over 407,000 Chinese visitors in 2019


China's State Council issues call for better payment services


China' government has called for the country's payment services to better meet the needs of elderly people, foreign visitors to China, and other user groups. The central government proposes that local governments should focus on sectors of the economy to accept a number of payment methods, including foreign bank cards. The sectors it highlighted include "eating, staying, traveling, shopping, entertainment, and medical care," and it also encouraged local governments to determine key locations and key merchant lists. These include large commercial districts, tourist attractions, tourist resorts, nighttime cultural and tourist consumption gathering areas, cultural and creative venues, entertainment venues, hotels, transportation hubs, and hospitals. The State Council also proposed continuously improving mobile payment services, optimising business processes, enriching product functions, and expanding payments acceptance scope so as to enhance the convenience of mobile payments at all stages.


Air China to increase flights on Beijing-Athens route


Starting from April 1st, the direct flights between Beijing and Athens operated by Air China will increase from the current three flights to five flights per week. At the same time, starting from April 2nd, Juneyao Airlines will also open a Shanghai-Athens route, providing three direct flights per week.


Qingdao is a major nodal city in China's Belt and Road Initiative


Caissa Tourism plans to establish a wholly-owned subsidiary,"Caissa Bay", in Qingdao


Since becoming a state-owned holding listed company, Caissa Tourism has been accelerating its expansion into Qingdao. On March 6th, Caissa announced that plans to establish its all-new Caissa Bay project, with its own funds of RMB 100 million, in Qingdao, Shandong Province. "The establishment of 'Caissa Bay' is an active exploration undertaken, based on the natural beauty of the area north of Qingdao, our integration ability around the bay, and the operational advantages we've built up at Caissa Tourism,"said Chi Yongjie, Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of Qingdao Huanhaiwan Group, and Chairman of Caissa Tourism. "Caissa Bay will create new tourism experiences, seek new economic growth points for the company, and enrich the cultural and tourism industry while promoting the regional tourism economy."


Xiaohongshu's "Nearby" Tab Launches "Map" search function for the first time


On March 7th, Xiaohongshu's "Nearby" Tab introduced a new feature for the first time - the "Map" search function. A floating button has been added, linking to real-time maps. The map displays nearby attractions, food, and other rich notes based on the user's geographical location.



A screenshot of Xiaohongshu's latest feature


Anhui accelerates the implementation of the 144-hour transit visa-free policy for foreigners


China's inland Anhui province looks to "accelerate the implementation of the 144-hour transit visa-free policy for foreigners in our province, and promote coordination with Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang," according to a recent statement by Liu Zhiping, Deputy Inspector of the Anhui Provincial Public Security Department. The Anhui Provincial Public Security Department also held a press conference to introduce the latest measures implemented by the province's public security system to create a first-class legal and business environment, and to "accelerate the implementation of the 144-hour transit visa-free policy for foreigners in the province, and further facilitate entry and exit management services."


China Southern Airlines opens new Beijing Daxing - Singapore route


China Southern Airlines opened a new route from Beijing Daxing to Singapore on March 7th. This route is the first international route from Beijing Daxing to Southeast Asia operated by China Southern Airlines. Initially, there will be three flights per week, and during the summer and autumn seasons of 2024, it will increase to one flight per day.


China Southern Airlines to open a new route from Shenzhen to Kuala Lumpur


Starting from March 31st, China Southern Airlines will open a new route from Shenzhen to Kuala Lumpur. After the opening of this route, China Southern Airlines' international routes originating from Shenzhen to Southeast Asia will total 7, achieving full coverage of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and providing passengers with a more comprehensive Southeast Asian travel experience.


Shenzhen Airlines opens first direct flight from Wuxi to Seoul


On March 8th, Shenzhen Airlines launched its inaugural direct flight from Wuxi in Jiangsu province to Seoul at Incheon International Airport in South Korea.


Lanzhou-Hong Kong flights scheduled to officially launch in mid-April


The direct flight from Gansu's provincial capital Lanzhou to Hong Kong is expected to officially launch on April 15th. The opening of this route is set to further integrate tourism enterprises and institutions in both Hong Kong and the northeastern province of Gansu, and broaden the scope of industrial cooperation.



The northeastern province of Gansu is home to a number of World Heritage Sites


Direct flight from Linyi to Seoul opened


On March 6th, the international passenger route from Linyi in Shandong province to Seoul, South Korea, was successfully launched. The Linyi-Seoul (Incheon) route is operated by Tianjin Airlines with flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Following the opening of the Linyi-Nha Trang route on November 6th last year, the opening of international passenger routes from Linyi International Airport to Seoul this year will further meet outbound tourism demand in Shandong Province. Currently, Linyi International Airport has cooperated with 16 airlines to open 46 domestic and international routes, connecting 31 cities.


Group tourist travel from Taiwan to mainland China "temporarily" opens: 1000+ people travel on day 1


March 1st was the first day of the "temporary" opening for the public to travel in groups from Taiwan to the mainland, after the Taiwan authorities issued its "ban on group tours." About 50 groups were organized by several travel agencies, and over a thousand people traveled. Some industry insiders said that many people were concerned that they would not be able to organize group tours after June this year. Some tourists took the initiative to coordinate and reschedule their trips to depart before June. Recently, the number of inquiries about traveling to the mainland has been increasing.

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