Foreign-funded travel agencies operating in Shanghai and Chongqing have been allowed to operate outbound tourism business for tourists from the Chinese mainland, signaling that the domestic travel agency industry is progressing to a level of higher aperture, experts have observed.
The latest policy was issued Saturday by a directive from the Council of State, and the regulations will be in effect until April 8, 2024.
Previously, foreign-funded travel agencies were not allowed to conduct business for mainland Chinese residents to travel abroad, including Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administration and Taiwan, unless otherwise provided by the State Council or based on related free trade agreements. .
“The policy is in line with promoting China’s opening up, and it is of great significance for the development of the tourism market during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25),” Cheng said. Chaogong, head of tourism research at Tongcheng Travel, an online travel agency.
“Ahead of accelerating the structural reform on the supply side of the tourism sector, it is necessary for the country to further improve the level of openness related to travel agencies and thus enhance the vitality of the market,” he said. Cheng.
In 2017, Wancheng (Shanghai) Travel Agency Co Ltd, a foreign-funded travel agency based in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, was licensed to operate outbound tourism business for residents of the Chinese mainland. and became the first foreign-funded travel agency in China to obtain such business qualification.
Cheng said the latest directive indicates the government has extended the earlier pilot policy for the Shanghai Free Trade Zone to the entire city. He said the policy will have a limited impact on the domestic travel agency industry and will benefit the high-quality development of the entire industry in the long run.
Bai Ming, deputy director of international market research at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the decision would intensify competition in the domestic travel agency industry, but it would help increase opportunities. commercial cooperation between national and foreign tourist operators.
“Foreign-funded travel agencies have rich resources for overseas travel, and their business models can be used as a reference. The decision will contribute to the further opening up of the domestic travel sector,” Bai said.