Tourism operators in drive to expand the 'Chinese experience'
Sunday 11 September 2011
As the Chinese tourism industry welcomes more and more foreign visitors to the country, it is also starting to break new ground in terms of just what visitors can experience during their stay.
While guided tours remain the lifeblood of China's tourism operators, more options are being made available - both guided and for those looking for a little more adventure.
Nowhere more so is the case than in the Chinese capital of Beijing, a place that welcomes more than eight million foreign tourists every year.
One of the tour companies breaking the mold is Beijing Sideways, which offers trips around the capital's must-see sights from within a motorcycle sidecar. The company also makes detours from the tried and trusted tourist spots so that visitors can taste traditional food or can customize the trips to suit individual interests.
Another firm offering alternatives is Bike China Adventures which leads tours everywhere from The Great Wall through to Tibet while helping the more courageous chart their own course through the country.
The Hong Kong-based On the Road in China helps arrange 4x4 trips around China - with driver or without - and has marketed itself at the very high-end of the Chinese tourism market, catering for those "who are adventurous at heart, but no longer care that much for doing trains "stand-by," staying in youth hostels or l"ugging around backpacks."
And another Hong Kong-based China operator Concorde Travel says it has responded to market demand with its two self-drive packages which head to either Tibet and the Everest Base Camp or into the southwestern Yunnan Province.
China saw an estimated 53 million visitors cross its borders in 2010 - making it the third-most visited country in the world behind France (78.95 million) and the United State (60.88 million), according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. It has been predicted that by 2015 those visitor numbers will reach 188 million, making China the most visited place on earth.
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