New Era of China Luxury Tourism Research

The History Of China Tourism

In ancient times, travel was far from holiday and entertainment. People travel to different places just to exchange goods and do some business. Some of the longest-trading trade routes are famous, such as the Silk Road etc. Later, travel became more entertaining. But before the 20th century, it was only the lifestyle for the royal family and the elite class.

China's modern tourism originated after the foundation of the PRC in 1949. The country gradually set up foreign affairs offices to handle the official diplomatic visits.

However, during the three decades, inbound tourism was totally led by the government and only exclusive to overseas Chinese and foreign officials.

The real independent tourism industry did not exist in China until 1978, when the well-known open-door policy was carried out. Since then, the inbound tourism was no longer restricted to diplomatic reception. luxury tourism

Berghaus and Muller-Stewens (2014) point out that the biggest and currently strongest growth segment in the overall business of luxury goods is luxury services and experiences (travel, hotels, art auctions) at around 664 billion European dollars.

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The most significant reason is that today's customers derive far more satisfaction from luxury services than from the purchase of material luxury goods.

Luxury tourism is a special kind of luxury service, both in terms of supply and demand. Even in the past few years, due to the global financial crisis, unemployment, low living standards, people's economic situation has been difficult, but luxury tourism still exists. Even there is a rise in the number of both tourists and travel costs.

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Therefore, in the existing level of tourism market, people can observe the existence of a very wealthy clients, who have huge amount of money, are willing to pay a lot of money for a trip because they are eager to feel better than others in their society social class, and spend their hard-earned money on relaxation, indulgence and more reasons. As Kapferer and Bastien (2012) mentioned that luxury is an access to pleasure: it should have a very strong personal and hedonistic component, otherwise it is no longer a luxury but simple snobbery, and we would quickly fall into the trap of provocation or the potlatch.'

Fedeli(2010) believe that, even in the tourism sector, the definition of the concept of luxury is relative, based on a series of physical factors, as well as the perceptions and personal evaluation that people attribute to them. Thus, luxury refers to all that can be obtained that id differentiated, unique and exclusive. It does not satisfy the desires of the masses nor seeks positioning; it is a product or service that is offered to all but not all of them can reach. Likewise, luxury in the field of tourism takes shape to the extent that, rather than price, puts the emphasis on value, in what is now measured through the experience of the consumer.

Luxury Tourism In China

After more than 30 years of development, China's tourism industry has reached an important industry scale. At the annual National Tourism Working Conference in January 2014, chairman Mr. Shao Qiwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration, announced that, in 2013, the number of domestic tourists in China has reached 3.25 billion, and the total tourism revenue has reached 2.9 trillion RMB(,2014). The strong Chinese appetite for travel is also reflected in outbound travel numbers. Outbound tourists who come from China in 2013 reached 98.19 million and spent 128.7 billion US dollars (China Tourism Academy,2014). These remarkable figures further illustrate China's status as a world leader in outbound tourism and consumption area. These developments have aroused people's attention from many countries; many countries are keen to develop strategies to take advantage of this prospect China's tourism market.

At the same time, because of the tourism booming and the rise of tourist who come from developed country, luxury tourism in China booster as well. For luxury travel or high-end travel target customers, their travel is not limited by the income level, because money is not a problem for them since they have earned enough. Today's luxury hotels that focus on more than simple products or services, but are more interested in achieving a combination of different components and concepts based on experience and authenticity. (Bakker 2005, Yeoman and McMahon-Battie,2006). That means the concept of luxury in travel and tourism has seen a shift from traditional luxury products, such as five star resorts, to a large variety of unique and exclusive experience (Bakker,2005).

As most luxury tourism target customers, the most attractive point of travel that influenced their choice of destination is culture. Thus, cultural tourism becomes the most important form of luxury tourism in China. Driven by the heritage boom (Hewison,1987), the amount of cultural tourism in China continued to grow to a higher figure. At first, cultural tourism is not for the elite class, instead, it is a new destination to develop the mass market. But now the wealthy people are already tired of luxury goods and comfortable enjoyment that can be bought by money. They are more willing to get mental satisfaction through a different lifestyle and experience the local culture. China has such a long history with abundance of heritage and natural resources, which makes China become one of the largest markets in the world for luxury tourism and cultural tourism, and its scale is still expanding steadily. In recent years more elites from the Western countries came to China besides to visiting big cities, they have looked beyond the more primitive tourist areas such as Yunnan Province.

The Glocalization Of Luxury Tourism In China

The reason why glocalization has become much more significant is due to the target market has changed in recent four decades in China. Since China adopted the open-door policy in late 1978, its economic ties with the rest of the world have been rapidly developed (Freris,1991). While directly enhancing the global economic co-operation and liberalization, this open-door policy has also led to the emergence of a large group of foreign business travelers who need to visit China frequently to undertake market research. As business travelers, the need of diversity and localization does not matter because the only thing they want is comfort which they can enjoy in their home country. It directly led to the style of luxury tourism sectors in China is almost same, in other word "globalisation". Globalization may bring many positive factors, such as reduce the culture shock, and more importantly, building worldwide brand recognition (Yu & Huimin, 2005). However, as more and more travel agencies keep on exploring the business travel market in China, it becomes gradually saturated. To cope with the situation, executives of these pioneer luxury travel agencies, on the one hand, have to seek ways to attract more guests from their existing target market. On the other hand, they have started cultivating other market segments. Being a logical move, many of these luxury travel agencies have turned to target the affluent pleasure and cultural travelers as well. Nowadays the travelers who are interested in Asia culture become the new and developing target market. While the tourism industry has grown to meet this demand, the phenomenon of localization is providing unique encounters to customers at the local level(Hjalager,2007). As these tourism target customers become more and more diverse, the issue regarding how they should adjust their strategies to retain existing customers and to attract newly targeted customers also becomes more pressing. The suggestion of glocalization may be considered by hotels in order to enhance competitiveness worldwide.

Problems Of China Tourism

The problem of outbound tourism

Tourist leaves an indelible impact on the places they travel, which can have long-lasting consequences for how China is perceived worldwide. In recent years, there have been some high-profile cases of residents disapproving of Chinese tourists' behavior while visiting their countries. In 2013, a young Chinese tourist stirred an international controversy by carving graffiti onto an ancient Egyptian relic at Luxor. Incidents of Chinese parents allowing their children to defecate in public have sparked outrage worldwide.

China's increasing stake in international tourism and the financial impact of Chinese tourists have afforded the Chinese government an opportunity to indirectly affect international politics. The Chinese government has actively sought to influence the behavior of tourists in an effort to improve perceptions of China. The government has also used tourism as a mechanism for exerting political pressure by restricting or threatening to restrict Chinese tourists' access to certain countries such as South Korea and Taiwan.

The Problem Of Inbound Tourism In China

Large the Trade Deficit of Tourism Services and Unreasonable the Structure of the Service Trade

Li Yan(2017) figured out that The tourism trade deficit was $4 billion in 2009. In 2014, the trade deficit in tourism services increased to $98.1 billion, and the deficit increased by nearly 25 times in just six years. The trade deficit in tourism services narrowed in 2015. The only country in the top 10 in the world for travel services trade was run a large deficit. During the Spring Festival holiday in 2015, the number of outbound Chinese tourists reached 5.18million, increased 10% than previous year. At the same time, the huge tourism trade deficit weakens China's tourism service competitiveness. At the same time, the huge tourism trade deficit weakens China's tourism service competitiveness. Therefore, the structure of service trade in our country is given priority to with labor-intensive industries.

The Difficulty Of National Tourism Image Promotion

China is rich in tourism resources and has 40 world heritage sites, ranking third in the world. It is not only famous for its natural scenery, such as the scenery of Guilin, the scenery of Huangshan, but also the famous Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi'an, and so on. However, tourism resources are not widely known internationally, and it is very difficult to promote the national tourism image. First of all, many Chinese tourism companies do not pay attention to integrity and consistency when promoting tourism products. In addition, the management and execution departments have their own functions and cannot communicate and coordinate effectively, resulting in a large amount of manpower and material waste. Finally, the lack of investment in promotion funds is far lower than that of developed countries in Europe and the United States, and even lower than that of some developing countries.

The Inefficient Quality of Tourism Service

The employment threshold of China's tourism industry is low, and vicious competition in tourism industry is also a common phenomenon. In particular, high ticket prices lead to shopping and sales of tourist attractions, and drivers cheat tourists, which seriously interferes with the enthusiasm of foreign tourists. In addition, the Chinese government encourages inbound tourism. Domestic tourism demand wastes inbound tourism resources. In the "golden week", the scenic spot is overcrowded, the reception capacity is limited, and the short-sighted utilitarian tourism management department cannot guarantee the quality of tourism service. There have been traffic jams, overloaded tour buses and conflicts between tourists and scenic area employees. It left a shadow on foreign tourists and missed the chance to travel again.

The Cultural Shock And Language Barrier

While cultural encounters within destinations may introduce elements of 'culture shock' into tourists' experiences (furnham,1984). The sense of being overwhelmed by differences in language, symbols, customs and practices becomes a source of stress. Especially in China, the west and east culture is totally different that may thus evoke the emotional reactions of anxiety.

Reference list

  • Bakker, M. (2005), Luxury and tailor-made holidays, travel and tourism analyst. Chicaco, USA: Mintel International Group Ltd.
  • Guang Chen (2018) et al., Chinese tourists: Dispelling the myths, Mckinsey & Company
  • Kapferer J., & Batien.V (2012), The Luxury Strategy: Break the Rules of Marketing to Build Luxury Brands, Kogan Page, Limited, London, pp.17-20
  • Berghaus B. & Muller-Stewend. (2014). The management of luxury: a practitioner's handbook. Kogan Page, pp.18-20
  • Fedeli G., (2010). The luxury side of tourism and China: A qualitative study of motivations and national values of the affluent Mainland Chinese leisure travelers in Sydney, Australia, NHTV University of Applied Sciences-Master Program Tourism Destination Management. Berda, The Netherlands, Available at A. F. (1991) The Dynamics and Significance of the Re-export Trade with the PRC Asian monetary monitor 9/10, pp. 24-33.
  • Furnham, A. (1984) Tourism and culture shock Annals of Tourism Research 11:1 pp.41-57.
  • Hjalager, A. M. (2007) Stages in the economic globalization of tourism Annals of Tourism Research 34:2 pp.437-457
  • Nielsen & Alipay (2017), outbound Chinese tourism and consumption trends:2017 serveyRichards, G. (2018). Cultural tourism: A review of recent research and trends. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 36, 12-21.
  • Shambaugh.D.L (2013), China goes global: the partial power, Oxford: Oxford University
  • Yeoman, A. and McMahon-Beattie U., (2006). Premium pricing and luxury, Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management 4(4), pp.319-328
  • Yu, L. & Huimin, G. (2005). Hotel reform in China: A SWOT analysis Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 46:2, pp.153-169.
Updated: May 19, 2021
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New Era of China Luxury Tourism Research. (2019, Nov 15). Retrieved from

New Era of China Luxury Tourism Research essay
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