China adopts tourism law to protect rights of tourists
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) approved the bill at its bi-monthly three-day session. The law is expected to take effect from October 1.
The long-awaited move is designed to regulate the tourism market, safeguard tourists’ rights and interests, ensure reasonable use of resources, and foster the industry’s sustainable and healthy growth, the NPC’s Law Committee said.
The new law outlines measures to address key problems, unfair competition, sudden price hikes, and forced purchases, which have plagued the travel industry and aroused strong public discontent.
Focusing on curbing unnecessary price increases at some sites, the law introduces a compulsory public hearing procedure before any price rise.
According to the law, tourism sites developed using public resources should "strictly control rises in entrance fees or other additional charges." They will also have to hold public hearings if they plan to raise prices to prove the new fee is necessary.
In addition, the law says tourism sites should warn the public if the number of visitors to a site is expected to reach maximum capacity, and ensure public safety in peak periods such as national holidays.
Operations could be suspended for six months at areas that fail to issue warnings and take necessary measures to ease the flow of visitors or for those that take in tourists in excess of their maximum capacity.
It also imposes a three-year ban on companies who are found to have tricked or forced tourists to make purchases during trips, or that unnecessarily change tour itineraries.
Local governments are required to assign or set up special organizations for receiving related complaints.
China’s domestic travel market is the world’s largest. Statistics from the tourism authorities show that domestic trips totaled nearly 3 billion in 2012.
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