China has all the expected modern forms of transport including cars, aeroplanes and buses. Whilst most of China has well established roads, city roads can be very congested and rural areas might not have any tarmacked surfaces. By the end of 2006, there were still over 90,000 settlements not accessible by a highway (CNTA, 2016). Buses are cheap and frequent between popular destinations but are quite inaccessible to tourists with timetables only being in Mandarin and little to no online information about services.
Air travel is the most popular form of transport; there were 3.5 million take-offs alone in 2014 (BMI Research, 2015). Beijing Capital International Airport was reportedly the 9th busiest in the world (CNTA, 2016). Around 500 new airports are planned to be built in the country by 2020; these will aim to connect more scenic destinations in the West as well as agricultural regions to help develop tourism (BMI Research, 2016).
Rail is popular for internal migration between regions. There are plans for a cross-border railway line to encourage visitors from neighbouring countries (BMI Research, 2016). Also, the Silk Road project aims to connect more rural areas in the North West (BMI Research, 2015). The subway is cheap but systems are currently only available in four cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Tianjin (CNTA, 2016).
China could be considered one of the leaders in new transportation with ideas like this elevated bus which allows cars to still pass underneath when driving.
Resources and Key Events
There is a wealth of both cultural and natural resources in China. The country is vast with a variety of landscapes from major bustling cities like Beijing and Shanghai to the famous Gobi Desert and Himalayan mountain range. The most popular natural tourist attractions include: Mount Everest in Tibet (an autonomous region); Tiger Leaping Gorge near Lijiang; the Li River in Guilin and the Yellow Mountains in Huangshan (China Highlights, 2016). Each of these offers something unique to the country, Mount Everest is part of the Himalayas and is the tallest mountain in the world, bringing in mountaineers and charity fundraisers. The Li River is a picturesque place that has river cruises which are popular with photographers, artists and those looking for a more tranquil side to the country.
Cultural buildings and monuments play a large role in tourism, the most popular being the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Terracotta Army (Lonely Planet, 2016). Each of these offer a snapshot into the fascinating history of China from the ancient dynasties and emperors to the roots of Buddhism. These would entice Buddhists who believe that pilgrimage is an important practice and those who are interested in history. All of this makes it stand out as a destination because few places can measure up to their wealth of resources, including 50 World Heritage sites (UNESCO, 2016).
There are several strengths that China has in this industry with a large range of historic, natural and cultural attractions to charm visitors (Boniface et al., 2012). There is an actively investing government who endeavour to impress the rest of the world through their technological advancements and strong economy. Boasting a very high international arrival figure year on year continues to secure investment from foreign transnational corporations (BMI Research, 2015).
However, the country comes with its inevitable weaknesses too. China isn’t yet completely modernised so lacks services that some would consider essential such as uncensored internet with foreign media websites blocked as well as information regarding some of their political past. Furthermore, outside of the main tourist areas, there is little spoken English which makes it more challenging for tourists to engage and use amenities such as transport systems. There are visa restrictions in place which limit how long internationals can stay and is biased towards certain nationalities, putting off some tourists.
To be able to analyse China fully, opportunities in tourism and events need to be examined. Tourism is expanding to new regions with the development of better infrastructure in rural areas. Since the 2008 summer Olympic games, social attitudes of nationals have changed to become more open and hospitable towards international groups (BMI Research, 2015).
Unfortunately, there are several threats to the industry which need to be considered. One of these is the political corruption and unstable ties with other countries such as the USA and Japan (GOV.UK, 2016). Strict laws including the death penalty for crimes which wouldn’t be considered as major in the western world including drug trafficking. Natural disasters potentially scare off visitors, the country has large fault lines through it and is prone to serious earthquakes and typhoons. In addition to this, there are very high levels of air pollution which can have negative consequences to health in the long term, especially in Shanghai and Beijing (GOV.UK, 2016).