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Smart travel getting popular in China
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2012-04-12 13:48

By Ao Rong

Shao Qiwei, director of China's National Tourism Administration, says that China will endeavor to digitalize all operational activities of tourism enterprises in 10 years' time, basically achieving information-based smart tourism in China, a great emerging tourism country. 


Take out your mobile phone and you can enter a scenic spot with an electronic ticket; when you are enjoying the scenery, your phone will receive service information about the resort; on the touch-screens inside the information booths in the resort, all kinds of service information are available...This kind of emerging tourist service is called "smart tourism". 

How is it smart?

Smart tourism is considered the secondary revolution of the tourism industry. It uses such technologies as the internet of things, cloud computing, next-generation communication networks, high-performance information processing, and intelligent data digging, in such aspects as tourism experience, industrial development, and administration, integrating communication and information technology, centering on interactivity experience with tourists, and ensured by integrated industrial information management.  

Improving the public service system is closely linked to the status quo of the development of the tourism market. Liu Deqian, deputy director of the Tourism Research Center of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that, with increasingly growing demands, more diversified tourism products, and more intensified market completion, in order to strengthen the tourism industry, it's necessary to depend on the power of modern technology, use a coordinated service model that is low-cost and high-efficiency, and use the network to connect all aspects of tourism, so as to provide smart tourism service to tourists, to provide a smart management method to the administration authority, and to provide a more efficient market platform and a vast customers market to tourism enterprises.

For tourists, smart tourism includes four basic functions: navigation, tour guidance, sightseeing guidance, and shopping guidance. In short, mobile electronic devices are used for navigation, and LBS is integrated into tour information, so that tourists can know their positions at any given time; in the meantime of deciding the position, travel information in the proximity, including scenic spots, hotels, restaurants, entertainment, stations, and fellow travelers' positions, would also be shown on web-pages and maps. Click (or touch) objects of interest, and you can learn about their details, so that you can decide whether you need them; after online learning and planning, tourists can make reservation (for hotel room or tickets) directly online.

Participation of cities and tourists

Smart tourism is not merely a futuristic concept. The reporter learns that smart tourism construction projects are being planned in many places; the using of new technology applications differentiates smart tourism from the previous tourism informatization work. 

"In the future, when tourists come to the Forbidden City, they can learn about the tickets sales of the day on their mobile phone, so that they can arrange their schedule to avoid over-crowdedness; they can also have a virtual experience of the places they are planning to visit on Beijing's travel information website...", said Lu Yong, director of Beijing Tourism Administration, who suggests that Beijing will vigorously promote the urban construction of smart tourism, and plans to, in three years' time, establish Wi-Fi broadband network and install travel information touch-screens in all scenic spots and public service areas and business locations, such as hotels, restaurants, airports, and bus and train stations. Information search, service reservation, and travel complaints, among other functions, can be achieved on a single touch screen. 

Nanjing is a "smart tourism pilot city" designated by the National Tourism Administration. According to Jin Weidong, deputy director of Nanjing Tourism and Parks Administration, the priorities of Nanjing's smart tourism construction are: to provide more convenient and intelligent travel experience to tourists; to provide a more efficient and intelligent information platform for government administration; to facilitate the transformation of tourism resources into tourism products, and integrate all outstanding resources in society to jointly promote the construction of smart tourism. This conforms to the requirements and trends of the development of the modern tourism industry.  

Embrace opportunities smartly

Smart tourism is the development trend of the global tourism industry. It is also a strategic demand of the transformation and upgrade of China's tourism industry. The development of smart tourism would help China's tourism industry to take an advantageous spot in the global tourism landscape, and help to improve the overall service quality of China's tourism industry. Currently, with the maturation of relevant technologies and more favorable policy environment, the time for smart tourism construction has come.

Presently, the numbers of China's mobile phone users and internet users continue to climb. The tourism industry needs to comply with the development of information technology. Besides, novel traveling modes, such as cruise tours, recreational vehicle tours, and self-driving tours, are developing swiftly. It is necessary for the tourism industry to modernize itself in order to meet such emerging demands. Smart tourism is an entry point for meeting consumption demands on the technical level.  

Moreover, smart tourism will promote the transformation of conventional tourism administration methods into modern administration ones. Through the use of information technology, we can learn tourists' activity accurately in a timely manner, and monitor all kinds of unexpected incidents. Through information sharing and cooperation with such departments as public security, industry and commerce, health, and quality control, we can achieve effective handle of tourist complaints and tourism quality problems and maintain order in the tourism market. By using information technology, we can also fully understand the change of tourists' demand, their suggestions, and advices. In recent years, bold attempts have been made in some places. Zhangjiajie launches the Yichengtong information system; Yunnan Tourists Transportation Company uses GPS to integrate travel agencies, tourist shopping stores, tourist bus, and other information with settlement and management, achieving real-time dynamic supervision, playing a positive role in regulating the tourism market. 
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