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China Cracks Down on Management at Popular Tourist Sites

The Chinese government agency in charge of tourism development stripped highly sought-after accreditation from operators after undercover agents found lax oversight and unsafe conditions at popular attractions.

The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) took the unusual step of sending undercover investigators to some of the country’s most popular tourist sites. What the investigators found resulted in more than one operator losing a coveted “Five-A” rating. More than 30 undercover stings by the CNTA found that many of the tourism hotspots were woefully understaffed, poorly maintained and, in some cases, putting sightseers in danger of serious injury or death.

China Daily reports that assessments from “undercover tourists” this month resulted in both the Shenlong Gorge in Chongqing and Orange Isle in Hunan Province losing top-tier accreditation. Investigators reportedly found abysmal customer service and crumbling infrastructure, and noted that safety protocols were often ignored entirely.

“It took more than a week for a tourist to book a tour guide in the Orange Isle scenic spots,” CNTA spokesperson Peng Decheng told reporters following the announcement that the well-known tourist sites would have Five-A ratings revoked. “In Shenlong Gorge, tourists didn’t receive safety reminders from staff members when sitting on drifting boats.” Peng also noted that three additional Five-A rated destinations received warnings following the unprecedented undercover crackdown. He added that the agency will continue to keep pressure on operators and that more attractions could lose ratings in the near future.

The undercover stings come in the wake of a growing public debate over a perception that the management at highly accredited tourist sites are content to rest on previous laurels. Prior to the recent crackdowns, it was almost unheard of for a tourist attraction to lose an already-earned accreditation. In October of last year, the Shanhaiguan scenic locale in Hebei Province became the first Five-A rated tourist destination in China to lose its rating due to a lack of proper site management.

[Photo: Templetons]

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