Over the past few decades the world has seen tourism in China expand enormously. It is now the third most visited country in the world and in 2010 alone it saw 55.98 million tourists explore its incredible culture.
So what is it that attracts so many to this historical country?
That is what I aim to find out. I want to discover how China is “sold” to potential tourists through travel brochures and sites. I want to show what these travel agents have to offer and how they encourage this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip.
Over the years, china has seen a lot of destruction and as a result has had to construct new ‘historic’ buildings or temples from scratch to promote tourism. It does, however, still hold some of the greatest wonders of the world.
The first thing I noticed when looking at these travel brochures and sites were the glorified photographs. Whilst that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I began to see similarities between many of the photos and all these sites were promoting the same tourist attractions; The Great Wall of China, the Xi’an’s Terracotta Army, The Forbidden Palace and Tian’anmen Square. These are the main tourist attractions, but China has a lot more to offer.
Most travel sites offer a variety of holiday’s packages, including family holidays, group holidays, holidays for those travelling alone and those for students. However, most are encouraging group tours. During my research I came across a travel site called Wendy Wu Tours. This site offers an experience that is slightly different to any I’ve seen before. It promotes group tours depending on your fitness level. There are three categories; comfortable, medium and active paced tours. I think this is a great way to promote a holiday, however like many group tours you are given a few days to explore China for yourself and for many who are left without the security of a tour guide who knows the culture and language it can be very hard to adjust to and can be very challenging.
When it comes to advice, most travel sites don’t offer much on what to be aware of and most are promoting group tours. But Travel the Real China is a website that gives brilliant advice on places to go, what to be aware of and gives an account of someone’s personal experiences. He’s honest about the things he struggled with such as the language barrier but also says that ‘Seeing and experiencing the Real China will change your life’ everything from the sights and the sounds to the people and the amazing food. Along with Travel the Real China, Audley Travel gives an incredible account of China and what to expect. It provides itinerary ideas, suggested accommodation, travel guides, the best time of year to go and specialist knowledge.
Tourists are clearly drawn to this country’s incredible culture, its history and the stories it has to tell, but how much longer will this last? China is under threat from rapid monderisation. Many communities have been destroyed to make room for China’s booming population and the only way to do this is by building tall blocks of apartments where these small communities once lived. Whilst Thomson travel sites promotes a fascinating holiday that tells a story of two countries, one being ‘an ancient kingdom embedded in the past, the other an electrifying agent of change’ it also warns tourists that ‘the China of old threatens to disappear forever’ due to ongoing changes in its economy.
All these travel sites and brochures offer different things but all of them continue to encourage tourists to visit this incredible country; a country that has a reputation for exceptional hospitality and a culture that is so inspiring.
Thomson describe its China tours as a way to ‘discover the unique rural landscape in all its glory’, Thomas Cook describes it as ‘unmissable’ and Audley Travel say ‘China is truly a country of thrilling contrasts, bursting with energy and magic.’
I suppose it’s the same with any holiday, no matter how much research you do beforehand you never know what to expect until you experience it for yourself. For me, I’d love to experience the Real China.