In October 2020, Sinclair provided insight on ‘What global travel and tourism brands can learn from China’s golden week’. Now, five months on, there’s more that can be learnt about the tourism industry from China, and much for brands to take on board as the industry continues to adapt to these new times.
Every year, the top members of China’s legislature meet in Beijing to discuss the future direction of the country. The 2021 “Two Sessions” were especially important given that the country’s 14th Five Year Plan was approved by the National People’s Congress (NPC). The plan outlined China’s focus for the next five to 15 years, including speeding up the construction of a new development pattern and enhancing China’s viability, competitiveness, growth and sustainability; promoting rural revitalisation in an all–encompassing manner; continuous promotion of reform and openness; and guarantee improvement of people’s livelihoods.
During the sessions, some deputies proposed that the healthy and prosperous development of tourism will deliver an immediate sense of gain, happiness and security to people, and establish more attractive cultural and tourism offerings for residents and visitors to enjoy.
In the culture and tourism fields, efforts will focus on key areas, including: rural tourism in line with rural vitalization; high-level development of the culture and tourism industries; integration of culture and tourism; construction of public culture sites; protection of cultural heritage; measures to ease the operating pressure of travel agencies; digitalization of tourism and other new modes of commerce; and the transformation of the tourism industry.
The Government Work Report, in laying out the priorities for 2021, pointed to promoting services consumption in the fields of health, culture, tourism, sports and others. The 14th Five Year Plan stressed “developing advanced socialist culture to enhance the soft power of national culture”, and also calls for improving the level of social civilisation, improving public cultural services and improving the system of the modern cultural industry.
Specific highlights related to culture and tourism in the 14th Five Year Plan include:
High Quality Development: A socialist culture prosperity and development programme has been designed and tailored with the ambition of balancing national development over the next five years. This year, the spotlight was on the continuing efforts to alleviate unbalanced development in rural areas and across regions and turning China into a competitive innovation centre as it seeks high-quality development. The programme specifically mentioned improving the quality of tourism destinations, including: build Hainan international tourism and consumption centre; build Greater Bay Area into a world-class tourism destination; build the Yangtze River Delta into an international golden tourism belt; build Yellow River as a cultural tourism belt; build Hangzhou-Mount Huang natural ecology and cultural tourism corridor; build Sichuan culture tourism corridor; build Guilin into an international tourism resort; improve tourist service and tourism facilities such as parking, charging, traffic monitoring and management.
The 14th Five Year Plan also stressed strengthening supervision over tourism and tourism advertising. It suggested improving the salary system for tour guides, raising the threshold of entry for tour guides, improving the pricing mechanism of tourism products, strengthening the supervision of the price and quality of tourist souvenirs and strengthening supervision of the tourism process for tour guides. It suggested conducting yearly Chinese culture activities and festivals, as well as other annualised tourism activities and festivals.
Considerations for Brands
1. High Quality Development
Brands should consider how they can offer higher quality services and products in the China market. International companies will need to ’think locally’ about how they bring their expertise and knowledge to the China market to better support the nation’s high-quality development. Additionally, brands should consider how they contribute and facilitate China’s rural and regional development goals in places such as the Yangzi River Delta, Greater Bay Area and Hainan Free Trade Port.
2. Happy Livelihoods
Tailoring products and services to meet the varying needs of different demographics is more important than ever as consumers have come to expect higher quality. Following the pandemic, hygiene, physical health and mental wellbeing needs are slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels of importance. Cultural and travel brands should think about how they will contribute to building happier and better livelihoods for Chinese consumers. Recently, China launched its vaccine passport for cross-border travel, and people ready and eager to travel internationally again. The world needs to be ready to welcome Chinese travellers when it’s safe to cross international borders.
3. Dual Circulation
Under the “dual circulation” strategy, domestic demand will drive international trade as China’s economy is now consumption driven. It is important for brands to understand local cultural shapers and travellers to better address their evolving needs, especially crucial for foreign organisations.
This article is based on comprehensive report Sinclair Insights: China 2021 Two Sessions and 14th Five Year Plan. To read the full report, sign up here to receive your free copy. As an integrated PR agency servicing a wide range of travel and cultural brands across our hubs in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore, Sinclair is dedicated to staying ahead of the latest trends and industry news, providing our clients with insight driven strategies and strategic counsel. To find out more about our work across sectors, view our case studies here.