It is well-known that South China's Hainan Province is trying to create a brand name for itself as an international tourism island.
However, soon after the incidents of extortionate guest rooms and bad seafood have calmed down, the latest kickback scandal has indeed been a shocking one.
Kickbacks are nothing new in China, but it is quite rare that Hainan's tourism has seen such wide-ranging kickbacks.
Tour guides getting kickbacks is obviously going to hinder Hainan's tourism. The truth is universally understood, but it seems that no one wants to bear responsibility for the phenomenon, preferring to reap some profits and then call it quits.
Hainan was already approved as an "international tourism island" before its supporting facilities and service levels were improved and upgraded. That's why frauds have emerged one after another.
Of course, there are some measures to prevent this proliferation. From the perspective of brand-building, I have three suggestions to treat this "kickback" cancer – surgery, recuperation and care.
First, "surgery" must be conducted right now. In response to the kickback phenomenon, local authorities should stand out to hold a press conference and apologize to the public.
They should invite the media and consumers to supervise the process, add hot lines for reporting, and then investigate and punish the agencies or individuals involved.
This will ensure that tourism information is open and transparent, expose the hotels, travel agencies and scenic spots where actual prices are above market prices.
Hainan must start by shining a light on some ugly examples and severely punish those involved. Only in this way can local authorities deal a blow to lawbreakers who believe that the law cannot be enforced when everyone is an offender.
Second, help the system recuperate. A joint mechanism is a must between the government and the market.
In combating the chaos in the tourism market, the routine of "media exposure, official instruction and focused rectification" may work in the short run, but it is not a real cure for Hainan, where most tourists will not return after being cheated the first time.
Hainan should learn from the experience of its foreign counterparts that have overhauled every link in the industry, including shopping, housing, catering and even real estate, before eliminating objectionable practices.
Third, ensure long-term care. The international tourism market is mature and branded, meaning noneffective brands cannot survive. As people's concept of tourism matures, "brands" will be decisive in their choice of travel destinations.
Hainan's tourism can survive the international tourism competition only by improving operators' quality and ensuring integrity in the tourism industry.
The kickback incident has not only undermined Hainan's reputation, but also frightened away tourists. What tourists need is a trusted tourism brand, rather than deals obtained through fraud.
This is the direction and destination that Hainan, indeed all of China's scenic spots, should consider taking.
SOURCE: Global Times
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