Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Sabel Blanco
China's Best-Behaved Citizens Reap Travel Rewards with Discounted Prices
In an effort to revitalize its struggling economy, China is implementing a unique strategy that rewards citizens for good behavior and punishes misbehavior. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has announced plans to expand a pilot program that injects stimulus into the tourism sector, leveraging a controversial social credit system.
Building upon a concluded program in several districts and cities, which relied on different credit scores, the extended pilot will further incentivize positive actions. For instance, in the city of Wenzhou and three counties in Shandong province, individuals with good credit scores assigned by municipal authorities will be eligible for free tickets to local and regional tourist attractions. This initiative aims to encourage responsible behavior while promoting domestic tourism.
Tourism companies with commendable scores are reaping the benefits. In Shanghai’s Huangpu district, where tourism revenue plummeted by 37 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year, trustworthy enterprises can secure loans at half the standard interest rate. Similarly, in Rizhao, a coastal city in Shandong, tourism agencies with a solid track record can participate in “travel first, pay later” tours, easing their financial burden.
These measures come as signs of a slowdown in China’s economic recovery following years of isolation due to the pandemic become increasingly evident. Although the recent Labor Day holiday witnessed a surge in domestic travel, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, spending was relatively restrained, particularly among the country’s youth, who are grappling with alarmingly high unemployment rates.
By utilizing the social credit system to reward responsible behavior and provide economic incentives, China aims to boost its tourism sector and stimulate economic growth. However, the approach has not been without controversy, as critics argue that it may infringe upon personal privacy and restrict individual freedoms. The government believes that this strategy will encourage positive societal contributions while propelling the nation’s economy forward.
As the program expands and more regions adopt these measures, it remains to be seen how effective they will be in revitalizing China’s economy and whether they will have any long-term implications for the social credit system. The focus is on encouraging good behavior and reigniting the tourism industry, hoping to bring back the prosperity that was once synonymous with the vibrant Chinese economy.