An Exclusive Interview to Mr. Yuan Hao: Mountain Tourism Drives the “Tourism +” Industry Chain

Economic View Client June 1 (Zhang Yanzheng, Lv Xin) Recetly, the First International Mountain Tourism Day and Mountain Tourism International Forum (Nepal) has been successfully held in Kathmandu, Nepal.

With the upgrading of domestic tourism consumption, what changes have taken place in people’s understanding of mountain tourism? What opportunities and challenges will the setting of International Mountain Tourism Day bring to tourism enterprises in terms of product creation and service matching? How to coordinate the protection of ecological environment in the process of mountain tourism development? The reporter of Economic View Client interviewed Mr. Yuan Hao, the Vice President of China Youth Travel Services, at the launching ceremony of the International Mountain Tourism Day.

“Experience the Real Nature” Becomes Pursuits

The domestic “inauthentic” tourism mode has been criticized, including the “universal” culture-oriented travel towns, as well as the so-called “natural scenic spots” endowed with historical and magical legends, coupled with the excessive promotion of “tourist products” from tour guides. With the improvement of people’s living conditions and the change of life concepts, consumers are not satisfied with the way of only touring the scenic spots, but also tend to visit the real nature through “experience” mountain tourism.

In Mr. Yuan Hao’s views, the setting time and release place of the International Mountain Tourism Day are full of representative significance. He pointed out that May 29 is the first anniversary of human’s climbing the summit of Mount Everest. We announced Mountainous Tourism Day to the world in Nepal, locating at the southern foot of the Himalayas Mountains, whether as consumers or as providers of products and services, we can together focus on exploring the opportunities and challenges of mountain tourism.

“Tourism industry is the largest industry in the world, and its number of employees in tourism industry is the largest industrial population across the globe.” Mr. Yuan Hao said. According to World Tourism Economy Trends (2019), the total number of global tourists reached 12.1 billion in 2018, and the total income of global tourism reached 5.34 trillion US dollars, equivalent to 6.1% of global GDP.

Additionally, it is reported that the number of domestic tourists reached 5.539 billion in 2018, and the total tourism revenue reached 5.97 trillion yuan, rose by 10.5% over the same period last year. A primary evaluation shows that the overall contribution of tourism to GDP around the whole year is 9.94 trillion yuan, accounting for 11.04% of the total GDP.

The ratio of the mountain tourism population to total population is quite different at home and abroad. Mr. Yuan Hao expressed that mountain tourism is relatively mature and developed in Europe and the United States, especially in Europe. “It accounts for more of the tourist population. Mountain tourism is actually a very large area, including hiking, outdoor mountain climbing, skiing and forest exploration, etc. People in Europe and the United States generally like outdoor aerobic exercise. So there is an atmosphere of going out to exercise together because of their habits.”

For the development of the domestic mountain tourism market, Mr. Yuan Hao pointed out that although there are 1.4 billion people in China, the real tourist population is about 34 billion, among which tourism will be divided into many areas, such as sightseeing, vacation tourism, urban tourism, rural tourism and so on. “The proportion of real mountain tourism in China may not be very large, but its future prospects are very good.”

Consumers at home and abroad have different views on mountain tourism, which are not only related to cultural background, but also to the level and stage of economic development. “Generally speaking, countries and regions with more developed economy, their outdoor sports and mountain tourism are more extensive,” Yuan Hao said.

“Tourism+” Industry Chain Needs to Improve Infrastructure

At present, the young high-income groups are not satisfied with some general sightseeing and leisure holidays. Yuan Hao said that for Chinese tourists, the mountain tourism population continues to increase, and sports tourism, health tourism and other sub-sectors are sought after by high-income groups, Chinese tourists would like to experience mountain tourism abroad, and more and more of these products and services are available.

It is understood that, in view of the growing subgroup, CYTS has launched a new strategic business direction of “tourism+” to provide customized services for tourists of different ages and tourism needs. Yuan Hao said that through mountain experience tourism, they launched “tourism + education research” to let teenagers know the environment and nature; some young people with better physical fitness tend to challenge themselves, so a variety of rock climbing and skiing projects in “tourism + sports” more cater to this part of crowd; the walking in “tourism + health” is more suitable for the elderly with weaker physical fitness.

Besides offering mountain tourism products for tourists in line with their ages, CYTS also considers introducing “tourism + science and technology”, “tourism + finance”, “tourism + industry” in mountain tourism for different sectors. Mr. Yuan Hao said, “For example, Kweichow Moutai Group is a typical industrial tourism park. Moutai is related to wine culture, local physical geographical environment, so many enterprises would like to visit its factory.” Therefore, it is both “tourism + culture” and “tourism + industry”.

For the joint development of mountain tourism between China and Nepal, Yuan Hao believes that there are three advantages, namely, “close distance”, “people’s common aspiration” and “cultural communication”. “It should be said that the prospects for Chinese citizens’ traveling to Nepal are very good. In the future, the scale of this market will continue to increase, and China will soon become Nepal’s largest inbound tourist country.”

Nowadays tourists from all over the country, in addition to the way of flying, they need to go to Nepal through the Yunnan-Tibet and Qinghai-Tibet expressways on land, but there is no high-speed railway to take. Faced with the increasing number of Chinese tourists, Nepal’s passenger carrying capacity is not nearly enough.

“Nepal needs to make greater efforts to improve its major transport infrastructure. At present, Nepal has fewer airports, smaller airports and aircraft types, and it needs more and more modern airports to carry flights from different cities around the world.”

Compared with other tourism activities, there are relatively more hidden dangers in mountain tourism. Moreover, tourism in alpine areas is more dangerous than in low mountains. These hidden dangers mainly come from transportation, accommodation, infrastructure, industry and nature. Tourists’ traveling to Nepal will face the problems of insufficient diversification of supporting infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants, banks and so on.

On this subject, Mr. Yuan Hao pointed out that the prospect of cooperation between CYTS and Nepal Tourism Board is relatively extensive. By developing products and promoting sales, it can integrate tourism resources and improve tourism supporting infrastructure construction.

Give Consideration to the Protection of Ecological Environment While Scientifically Developing

It is understood that since human’s first climbing to Mount Everest in 1953, mountaineers from all over the world have flocked to it, which has instantly gained fame at home and abroad. Various stories about Mount Everest have traveled through thousands of rivers and mountains to be praised or criticized by the world. So that, countless people regard Mount Everest as their lifelong goal.

In the former stage, news such as “the closure of Mount Everest” and “the clearance of rubbish at Mount Everest” once again attracted people’s attention to high-altitude adventure tourism. How to give consideration to the protection of ecological environment in the process of developing mountain tourism is also a key topic discussed in this conference forum.

Since the structure of mountain ecosystem is single and fragile, so it is difficult to recover once destroyed, and whether the human-mountain relationship can achieve harmony mainly depends on “human”. Yuan Hao said that China Youth Travel Services played the role of advocacy officer, calling for insisting science, civilization, safety and environmental protection in the process of mountain resources development, and paying attention to coordination of mountain ecological environment protection.

Because of high altitude and dangerous terrain, it is extremely difficult to clean up dozens of tons of garbage on Mount Everest. Yuan Hao pointed out that the destructive development of mountain tourism is unsustainable and must be stopped from the beginning. He said, “It needs to organize relevant parties to think and discuss how to develop mountainous tourism healthily. And we should manage and guide it together, rather than leaving more environmental pollution issues in the process of development.”

Alpines and very high mountains have unique landscapes and well-preserved resources, and they are relatively closed. In order to meet people’s actual needs, orderly scientific development should be carried out. In response, Yuan Hao said, “For example, development involves the ecological environment of animals and plants in the mountains, which is not only a simple tourism problem, but also the safety of the ecological chain and the ecological circle.”

Yuan Hao said that the setting of International Mountain Tourism Day can arouse the industry’s awareness of the protection of mountain natural and humanism ecology, explore ways and means of effective and sustainable utilization of mountain resources, and also enable tourism enthusiasts to gain more senses of mountain tourism and enjoy the health and happiness brought by mountain tourism.

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