44 scenic spots lose shine

Updated: 2015-04-03 07:37

By SU ZHOU(China Daily)

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Inspections found that many popular destinations failed to maintain standards

Dozens of highly-rated Chinese tourist attractions have had their accreditation removed after a crackdown on irregularities.

According to the National Tourism Administration, ratings awarded to 44 tourist attractions, mainly in 2A and 3A categories, have been removed. Nine 5A tourist attractions were given a "warning" and required rectification.

Popular destinations for overseas visitors, including the Nanjing Confucius Temple& Qinghuaihe River Scenic Area, Hangzhou Qiandao Lake Scenic Area and Meitianya Tropical Ocean World in Sanya, were among the first group to receive media exposure.

"We started the campaign last year. Undercover investigations at those high-rated tourist attractions revealed that some of them failed to meet national standards," said Peng Decheng, a finance official with the administration. "The problems involved include toilet cleanliness, garbage disposal, bullying tourists and forced shopping."

China adopts a five-tier tourist rating based on criteria such as the importance of the site, transportation and sanitation. The highest rating is 5A and has to be award by the administration, while ratings of 4A and below can be given by provincial tourism authorities.

Peng Zhikai, the administration's supervision and management division head, said the crackdown has worked. "During Spring Festival, we saw a reduction of 60.5 percent of complaints from tourists compared with the same period last year."

The effort is expected to continue. Tourism authorities at provincial level were urged to enhance their supervision on the management of scenic spots.

"If local tourism authorities failed to supervise the scenic spots, we would consider revoking their rights to give 4A awards," said Peng Decheng.

The 5A standard is also expected to become stricter. According to the national tourism planning and development conference held on March 30, the 5A rating standard would be revised by the end of this year.

Zhang Guangrui, honorary director of the Tourism Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said there is a need to introduce third-party supervision.

"Scenic spots try very hard to get the 4A or 5A ratings because the honor helps them market or raise ticket prices," said Zhang. "However, it is hard to maintain afterward if there is no proper supervision."

"China is too big to rely on tourism administrative authorities to shoulder all the responsibilities, and industry self-regulation is also falling short of our expectations," added Zhang. "I strongly recommend introducing third-party organizations to participate in supervision work.