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39 travel agencies go out of business

Thirty-nine small travel agencies in Guangzhou have shut down due to the financial crisis, local media said on Monday.

The Guangzhou-based New Express Daily said the travel agencies cannot afford the high costs of operation, and that there has been a fall in the number of people traveling because of the economic recession.

Only larger agencies, such as China Travel Services, GZL, and Nanhu Travel, can survive, the report said.

Meanwhile, the provincial government said yesterday it will speed up the development and reform of the tourism industry.

It has set high targets for Guangdong.

By 2012, the gross revenue of Guangdong's tourism should be 450 billion yuan ($65.7 billion), and net profits $13 billion, it said.

By that time, there will be 10 Class 5A scenic spots in the province, it said.

The government said it wants to make Guangdong an important tourism market for China and Asia by 2020, by which time tourism revenue will have grown to 760 billion yuan.

The government said it will develop tourism in several ways depending on the support of the central government, including encouraging companies and employers to offer group travel plans for their employees.

Primary and middle schools in Guangdong will also be encouraged to organize study tours, it said.

The provincial government also promised to support big tourism projects costing over 1 billion yuan

Tourism is undergoing a difficult time because of the economic recession, but Guangdong is trying to turn the challenge into an opportunity, Chinese tourism expert Song Ding said.

He told Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily that boosting tourism is the easiest and quickest way to consolidate the economy and stimulate domestic demand.

Guangdong's plan has gained much support from the national tourism administration.

Ding said Guangdong province will be an example for the development of tourism nationwide.

Xie Pengfei, vice-secretary of Guangdong, said the decision is an important strategy to develop Guangdong's modern service industry.

Guangdong will be a model for China's tourism reforms, he said.

(China Daily December 16, 2008)