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UPDATED: 19:56, September 07, 2004
Tourism chiefs pledge to shake up travel sector
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The National Tourism Administration announced last week that it will join forces with several other government departments to launch a comprehensive shake-up of China's outbound tourism market.

A spokesperson with the administration said controls over domestic travel intermediaries will be tightened to prevent illegal emigrants from taking advantage of outbound tours.

The campaign will help regulate the country's outbound tour services, but at the same time, the problem-ridden domestic travel market should not be overlooked.

Travel agencies squeeze money from guides' pay and cut service quality levels to slash costs. Many guides cut sight-seeing activities from the schedule but add shopping programmes, escorting gullible tourists to expensive stores to earn commission. Some even extort tips from their clients in advance as a prerequisite for good service.

The malpractice has turned the travel industry into one of the most complained-about sectors in China.

Millions of people will set off on holiday for the October National Day holidays. Measures need to be taken quickly to regulate this market and guarantee a better-quality service.

Authorities should also keep more of a check on unscientific tourism development, which is plaguing the country.

Overdevelopment has ruined cultural sites and the ecological environment in many regions.

Unlimited numbers of tourists rush to the destinations in limited holidays, threatening pressurized resources. All kinds of modern constructions have destroyed the natural beauty and original look of our cultural heritage - like a 300-metre tall elevator built on mountains in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, and a huge guest house built inside the Imperial Mausoleum preservation zone in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.

Local governments that seek instant economic results may be to blame for these devastating tourism development programmes. But the country's tourism authorities cannot get out of their responsibility.

Only a rational use of our tourism resources can guarantee sustainable development of the travel industry. The tourism administration should be responsible for taking good care of it.

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