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NTA announces changes in China Inbound Program

Jul 14, 2009

WASHINGTON - The U.S. National Tour Association (NTA) announced on Tuesday changes to the China Inbound Program, including new requirement on tour operators that participate to the program, to ensure Chinese group leisure travelers to the U.S. "have a safe and quality vacation experience."

"As the Chinese group leisure travel market continues to grow in the United States, NTA and its partners felt it was important to take next steps in improving the visitor experience," said NTA President Lisa Simon in a statement.

The new criteria for participation in the China Inbound Program is backed by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, she said.

"CNTA and the Department of Commerce are in full support of the new criteria and NTA is proud to be the only U.S. organization working in an official capacity with this market as part of the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)."

The U.S. and China signed in December 2007, the MOU to facilitate Chinese group leisure travel to the U.S., providing the necessary framework to permit group leisure travel from China to the U.S..

NTA's China Inbound Program was created to assist NTA tour operators in working with Chinese travel agencies to organize and market packaged group leisure tours to the United States.

NTA said that among the new criteria, participants are required to use suppliers and contractors that are sufficiently licensed and who maintain up-to-date registration and insurance in compliance with applicable laws.

Companies also must review crash data, safety ratings and safety records of motorcoach subcontractors and make sure they are properly licensed in the state of operation, it said.

The criteria include a special rule regarding shopping opportunities that any shopping activities must be done without coercion at reputable shopping facilities with quality products, it added.

"To remain an approved operator with the China Inbound Program, all participating companies must reapply to affirm that it meets these new criteria."

In addition, NTA has developed a document outlining Best Practices for working with the China inbound market, including details in six areas of activity — tour operator and supplier qualifications; itineraries and visitor experience; tour pricing and tour advertising; payment, refunds and deposits; crisis management; and continuing education.

The changes were announced after a fatal bus crash that killed six Chinese group leisure travelers and injured nine others in February on a highway about 40 km south of the Hoover Dam in Arizona.

State investigators suspected that the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, but two separate federal investigations into the case have not officially concluded.

NTA announces changes in China Inbound Program

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