According to the Annual Report on the Self-driving Development in China 2013-2014 issued by China Tourism Automobile and Cruise Association (CTACA) and The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Tourism Research Center, the number of domestic tourism reached 3,260 Million in 2013, an increase of 10.3% over the previous year. In 2013, self-driving tourists accounted for 53% of domestic tourists in China, reaching 1.73 billion visitors. The report also indicated that self-driving tourism is bound to have a more rapid development in the future.
On September 28, 2014, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) organized the Forum on Patterns & Trends of China Self-driving Tourism in Leshan, Sichuan. Guided by the Sichuan Provincial People’s Government and China Tourism Automobile and Cruise Association (CTACA), the forum was co-organized by Leshan Municipal People’s Government, Tourism Administration of Sichuan Province and Sichuan Bureau of Expo Affairs.
As one of major activities of the 1st Sichuan International Travel Expo, the forum primarily focused on the trends of self-driving tourism (road trips), including the promotion of China self-driving tourism products, the improvement of self-driving support services, professional self-driving events, and the promotion of self-driving equipment and supplies.
Mr. Liu Hanqi, Secretary-General of China Tourism Automobile and Cruise Association (CTACA) pointed out that self-driving travel had been the first choice of many Chinese tourists in recent years. “There has been a dramatic fell of the amount of tour teams and a sharp rise in the number of independent travelers, which put forward many new subjects to the governmental public services and scenic spot services. Strengthening information consultant, improving the capacity of parking hospitality services and developing more self-driving products are the main issues to be solved by tourism department and scenic spots nowadays,” said Mr. Liu Hanqi.
In his keynote speech at the forum, PATA CEO Mr. Mario Hardy noted that self-driving tourism also contributed to local economy but highlighted the issues that must be addressed. “For the further development of self-driving tourism, sound infrastructure should be constructed, such as roads, guideposts, gas stations, restaurants and hotels,” said Mr. Hardy.
As a new format of tourism in China, self-driving shows the willingness of the Chinese people towards leisure travel, and embodies the transformation and upward mobility of China’s tourism by developing growth in transportation, information, finance, and manufacturing. The forum provided a platform for communication between industry stakeholders, academics and the government officials. It also established a solid foundation for the sustainable development of Self-driving tourism in China.