Should China be cutting entry prices to top attractions?


Places such as the Forbidden City are popular among tourists. Source:

JUST under 70 million international tourists traveled to China in 2017 to experience local culture and learn more about republic’s extensive history, according to Travel China Guide.

From the Great Wall of China to the Summer Palace in Beijing, the Terracotta Army in Shaanxi and the world’s scariest hike in Huashan, China isn’t just home to the world’s biggest population – it’s also a country packed with culture and rich heritage. Naturally, it attracts millions of curious visitors every year.

And there’s plenty to do, but it all comes at a fairly high price, oftentimes much higher than attractions and activities with similar popularity around the world.

However, after a proposal by the country’s Premier Li Keqiang, these higher-than-preferred prices may soon be falling to appease tourist woes and save them some money.

Li has vowed to include this new proposal in his work report which focuses on China’s economic growth.

“I still remember the shock I had when I visited the imperial mountain resort in Chengde with my family in 2013,” Wang Lin, a Beijing office worker, told South China Morning Post.

“The ticket price was more than double what it costs to get into the Summer Palace in Beijing, even though it’s not as impressive and there’s much less to see,” she added.

The most expensive culturally-significant attractions in China include the Hengdian World Studios, which cost US$103 (CNY650) for the full tour; the Jinggang Mountain at US$41 (CNY70); and Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Area at US$39 (CNY248).

While entry onto the Great Wall will only set climbers back around US$6 and The Forbidden City is around US$5 entry, they won’t break the bank, but many of China’s other attractions are far beyond the means of an average salary, leaving visitors in a financial conundrum.

Even for Western visitors, there is confusion around having to pay high prices for cultural attractions.

Georgie Harris, a British national who was in Beijing last year on an exchange programme, said when she was there, she made sure to visit as many attractions as possible because she had read such good things about them.

“But often they were pricey and overcrowded which made me want to get out as quickly as I could,” the 21-year-old told Travel Wire Asia.

Harris’s disappointment was echoed recently by Chinese New Year celebrants who traveled to culturally significant sites throughout the celebrations but complained about the crowds and the costs.

One argument presented by He Jianmin, a professor of tourism management at Shanghai University claimed that the high ticket prices were due to the cost of maintenance of these sites.

However, Zhan Dongmei, from Chinese Tourism Academy said, “reducing the entrance fees at those sites would be appropriate, given that they are meant to be enjoyed by the public, and it would also push other tourist spots to follow suit.”

If the cuts are enforced, local economies could grow at a steadier rate as more tourists would be willing to splash the cash. However, it remains to be seen whether Li’s proposal will be enforced.