China adopts new steps to bolster consumption, facilitate Internet Plus Tourism

BEIJING, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) — China will introduce new measures in boosting consumption in commodities and key sectors, and tapping rural consumption potential, according to the State Council, or the cabinet.

Greater support will be provided for the growth of Internet Plus Tourism, to better cater people’s demand in consumption upgrading, the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Wednesday.

Figures from the Ministry of Commerce show that in 2019, retail sales in automobiles, home appliances, furniture, construction materials and catering sectors accounted for some 25 percent of the total retail sales in China, and retail sales in rural areas accounted for 14.7 percent of the total.

In October, total retail sales saw a 4.3 percent year-on-year increase, registering positive growth for three consecutive months.

“At present, the prominent restraint on economic development lies in consumption as the main growth engine was seriously affected by COVID-19 earlier this year. It has been picking up in the past few months, yet notable difficulties remain in restoring normal growth. We need to explore new highlights in consumption to spur domestic demand,” Li said.

It was agreed at the Wednesday meeting that the strategy of bolstering domestic demands will be firmly implemented. Auto consumption will be stabilized and expanded. Local authorities are encouraged to finetune restrictive measures regarding car purchasing, and raise the ceiling of license plate quota.

Promotion campaigns will be carried out for vehicle purchasing in rural areas and trading in used cars for new ones. In rural areas where conditions permit, residents will be encouraged to buy trucks with capacity no bigger than 3.5 tonnes and passenger cars with engines no bigger than 1.6 liters.

Car buyers will be subsidized for phasing out the gasoline powered vehicles of national emission standard III or below. The construction of parking lots and charging piles will be stepped up.

Regions where conditions allow are encouraged to give out subsidies for trading in old facilities and purchasing green smart home appliances and environment-friendly furniture.

Catering service providers are encouraged to diversify and upgrade their menus, innovate online and offline business models, and improve service standards. Market-oriented promotion of high-quality specialty diets will be supported.

Expanding county and township consumption shall serve as a fulcrum to spur rural consumption. Construction of business and trade facilities in counties and townships and logistics outlets in villages will be stepped up.

Sub-national localities will be supported in building comprehensive public service and consumer service centers that meet rural demands and needs in farmers’ daily lives.

Violations such as making and selling of fake or substandard goods will be cracked down on pursuant to law to ensure that rural market will be better regulated.

“Counties and townships shall also be included when boosting rural consumption, as they boast enormous potential. High-end consumption in big cities should not be our sole focus,” Li said. “County consumption capacity is modest, yet it will grow and upgrade. Efforts should be taken to adapt to different consumer needs and improve people’s lives.”

Those at the meeting also agreed on a host of measures to support Internet Plus Tourism. Development of smart facilities in tourist attractions will be taken forward and services such as electronic maps and audio guides will be promoted. Construction of digital exhibition venues in major tourism sites will be encouraged.

Tourist sites will be encouraged to increase online marketing and facilitate new business forms such as cloud tour. Regulatory measures will be rolled out for Internet Plus Homestay. Traditional offline services will remain in place for senior citizens and other special groups.

Accommodating yet prudent regulatory approaches will be improved, and tourism safety monitoring and online complaint handling will be scaled up.

“The model of Internet Plus Tourism will play a positive role in catalyzing consumption. Practices proven effective shall be summarized and promoted,” Li said. “Accommodating yet prudent regulation needs to be enhanced and cheating and swindling must be deterred.”

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