The Jinggang Mountains are one scenic area which has raised its ticket prices this year. (Photo/Xinhua)
As the Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday attracts swarms of tourists to China's scenic sites, a number of famous areas introduced a price increase, making the entrance fee the biggest expenditure when traveling in China, reports the Guangzhou-based Southern Daily.
The Jinggang Mountains region between the provinces of Jiangxi and Hunan raised their entrance price from 130 yuan (US$20.60) to 162.5 yuan (US$25.80) per person. A historical site in Zaozhuang in the eastern province of Shandong also increased the entrance price from 100 yuan (US$15.80) to 160 yuan (US$25.40).
According to the newspaper, nearly half of the 130 5A-level scenic areas in China charge more than 100 yuan (US$15.80) in entrance fee per person. About a third of them have set the price between 100 and 200 yuan (US$15.80-S$31.70).
"The prices are going up. It is understandable that the scenic areas increased their entrance fee, but some of them went up too much!" a woman surnamed Wang in the south-central province of Hunan told the newspaper.
A survey by the Travel Research Academy of China and travel agent Ctrip showed that of expenditure on domestic travel, tourists on average spent 22% of their money on entrance fees and 21% on transportation, showing that entrance fees have become the biggest expense for travel in China.
The National Development and Reform Commission has decreed that scenic areas are not able to increase their entrance fee more than once in a three-year period. Many areas adjusted the fees in 2006 and raised them again in 2009. This year therefore means another legal opportunity.
The authority for the Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) area in the eastern province of Anhui told the newspaper that the price hike is intended to offer more high-quality services for the tourist.
However, Wu Bihu, a professor at Peking University said the authorities in charge of the scenic areas are acting selfishly. "The authorities for the scenic areas lack connection with other governmental departments and raise the prices for their own interests," Wu was quoted by the Southern Daily as saying.
While there is no effective supervision from civic groups, local governments see entrance fees as an important source of income. "The best solution is to separate the management and the ownership," Wu said.