China calls off 'budget' tours
Updated: 2015-04-02 20:17
By Su Zhou(chinadaily.com.cn)
A government-initiated "chatting" with two online travel service providers about "one yuan for an overseas trip" has triggered hot discussion online.
A senior tourism official argued that "it was not only marketing behavior" but travel providers have to submit a correct cost for the trip.
"We keep an eye on those budget travel products because we have the responsibility to protect tourists' rights," said Peng Zhikai, division head of supervision and management under the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA). "Everyone has common sense. A breakfast in Beijing would cost more than one yuan."
"We didn't ask the providers to suspend the products immediately. We require them to provide elaboration on how to manage the cost," Peng added. "And yet we haven't got any feedback from the two companies."
Peng also said the administration will continue its effort to crackdown on budget travel products to protect tourists' rights.
"In the past, there were cases of a low-price consumption trap and this kind of chat is a reminder to tourists about the potential risk," he said.
On March 25, the official website of CNTA showed it urged the Jiangsu provincial tourism authority to "chat" with two online service providers, Ly.com and Tuniu.com, about their very low price products. After the chat, Tuniu suspended its "one yuan for an overseas trip" promotion. Liu Simin, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing Tourism Association, said on March 27 that the tourism authority has no legal grounds to regulate this kind of product.
"One yuan for an overseas trip is simply another way of advertising," Liu said. "Travel service providers just invest the advertisement fee on clients. It doesn't violate any law."
After the chat, Ly.com also gave out a statement saying that the low-price product does not include any forced shopping.
"Through this online campaign, we gain more mobile app users, Wechat (a popular mobile chat app from Tencent) and the bank get more channels for payments and scenic spots get more consumption besides ticket," the Ly.com statement said.
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