Physical Fitness and Other Special Interests
If we exam the sundry forms of tourism, which have become a part of our lives for decades, we will quickly find out that certain modes of holidaymaking have become trendy because they best satisfy people's temporal needs and other wants at a time. The overpowering features of the first decade of the 21st century in China are certainly the IT Revolution, Opening and Reform policy in effect for 30 years, China's Entry into the WTO and winning to host the Olympic games and World Expo. These call us to mind concepts and ideas as those "A shares stock index going up by 1.28 times", "Olympic economy ",appreciation of RMB", “,Xiaokang”(A Confucius term of 3000 years 01d, means a condition of moderate prosperity), "average economic growth at 9% annually" and the passing of the "Law of PRC on Employment Contracts" etc. At first glance it might be hard m see what it has to do with changes in tourism as we are dealing with here. In fact, these social changes coming into play coincide with, and for most of the time, dictate changes in tourists' behavior, motivation, and experience. We are also talking here of the new class that are neither inheritably wealthy nor poor and are the trendsetters, the so-called 'Yuppies'. Their wealth come, for the most part, from the factories or enterprises they run and own, or they earn their wealth from the stock market, from the burgeoning retailing, health care, education, cosmetology, motorcar and real estate industry, or high education jobs that let them take part in the new IT industry and media booms as young professionals. More and more the everyday occupation is no more representative of a status like in the past but is the opportunity to provide time and resources to realize their attitudes. There exists tendency to represent themselves as part of groups or as someone prefer to say tribes has changed their approach to holiday time representation, involving an increased interaction of these 'tourists' with the tourism products, shaped according to their preferences. Furthermore the Tribes identification is no static, and it's common for the same person to choose multiple affiliations to different identities and demanding different tourism products.
Fashion, of course, is an element of these changes. Fashion plays a role in the establishment of the egos of this new class which, by way of being different, having no tradition and no fixed identity. The lack of identity is probably why they embrace western consumer culture and lifestyles, and envy (thus, imitate) the Westerners' ways of holidaymaking, while at the same time caring for their physical fitness and well-being, and looking down their noses at the traditional form of recreation, and the orthodox use of leisure time. Musicians, movie stars and other cultural icons have always influenced what types of destinations they are going; videos, books,newspapers, magazines, television and movies also have a big impact on what mode of tour they are taking. However, one certain thing of the fashion is that it ebbs and flows. Some of the fashions fail to stay on the runway. Some of their expensive, physical, emotional, ideal, or often artistic fashions may become a hit and readily accepted by the common folks.
Better health is already playing an active role in our lives, and holidays catering for this need are increasing. These appeal because they attract those whose basic needs for relaxation have already been met and their desk-bound jobs may involve mental strain, job burnout and backaches resulting from sitting in front of the computer at long stretches of time. Their occupations may include managers, engineers, artists, auditors/financial controllers, accountants, secretaries, receptionists, logistics and transport clerks, public relations clerks, personnel and human resource clerks and other office clerks who sit in company for whole day, or those outgoing types doing work at clients' place. Though their working hours are generally long, they are normally entitled to comparatively generous pay, various types of paid and unpaid leaves, and just like the rest of the crowd, to about 11 paid public holidays throughout the year.
These groups of people are now seeking something more challenging, or vibrant activities than to be found in the traditional cultural and heritage tours, such as trekking, mountaineering, canoeing or yachting etc., which provide opportunities for searching for health and test their physical abilities, and there may also involve a search for competence. This need can be identified in the new enthusiasm for outward bound programs, which emphasize "training the mind through the body", so that participant would develop inner strength, character and resolve. Orienteering, a competitive sport involving the use of a map and compass to navigate the land and search for the "control points" enjoys immense popularity nowadays. This game is similar to a treasure hunt and suitable for all ages and degrees of fitness and skill. Because these pastimes are purchased by people of the same turn of mind, and are often provided in small groups, they help find "like-minded" people and meet other ego and social needs, like personal development, the desire to lead a challenging life full of promises and to develop the team spirit for a common goal.
Outdoors and special interest holidays of all kinds stand to benefit from these fevers, since new tourists are generally perceived as more educated, interested in local communities culture and in a real interaction with the surrounding environment. A 2003 tourist spend survey reveals that per capita spend on activities and outdoor holidays averages RMB 631 Yuan, continuing to increase at an annual growth rate of 30%. Tour companies have also been established to target at satisfying such diverse needs and hobbies, as those of amateur horticulturists, birding, golfing or angling enthusiasts, those with an interest in various aboriginal cultures, wine and food, arts or even such highly specialized activities as embroidering, handicraft making, GongFu learning and so on.
Acitivity Holidays on the rise
In 2006, the mass demand for sightseeing package tour stood poised on the threshold of an accelerating transition to demand for activity tour, which now cater for the widening scopes of interests. Young people, and even for those in the upper age brackets among tourists, are seeking greater excitement from their adventure holidays of hang-gliding, hot air balloon ride, canyoning, white-water rafting and other thrill holidays which are becoming popular. Independent holidays appeal to a wide range of markets with purposes for education, photographing, mountaineering, skiing, golfing, etc., families in particular are provided with more options of holidaymakings with increased opportunities to take day excursion to the countryside near the town, the spa and the seaside which is so well suited for relaxation on the beach, enjoyment of the healthy benefits of sunshine and mineral and saltwater bathing. In winter holiday market, for instance, the once popular package, as a form of passive recreation, to see the ice lanterns, white rime on the pine trees, and snowy forest in the northeast of China, is now shifting to more active holidays and strenuous out-door holidays of all kinds. The customers are health-conscious couples and individuals with median and high household incomes. They are interested in more adventurous activities, such as a trek in the invigorating mountain air, skiing and snowboarding, and mountaineering and the alike. Other burgeoning destinations for winter holidays, which are taking away market shares of the established destinations, include ski resorts in the outskirt of Beijing, Jiuzaigou in Sichuan, and Xinjiang where the holidaymakers have a wide choices of either the traditional excursions to experience unique landscapes, folk-customs, or more active outdoors holidays. We may conclude, at the same time that, from an industry point of view, these destinations can generally support a new seasonality through providing an interactive tourism experience largely appreciated, also they tend to establish new relationship with surrounding territories to provide a more complete and integrated tourism supply. New products have been promoted or old ones innovated but without involving a radical change in tourism industry assets. The next step leading from an enlarged seasonality to a real tourism diversification may involve a deeper evolutionary process in the marketing and management strategies.
Tourist Attractions and Activities
In the early days of mass tourism, as the tourist attractions offered were limited to a number of urban areas and famous mountains and rivers, tourists want to see the country's heritage -- its architectural, cultural and historical attractions. As they become better off, there is a growing demand for holidays offering novelties and new types of recreation, rather than for chances to seek similarity and assurance of a familiar ambience. This phenomenon occurs at different places of interest, both domestic and overseas, with examples being found in the increasing volumes of tourists to farther away destinations as of Southeast Asia, USA and Africa, etc. As for Chongqing city dwellers, for instance, where the landform, contrasting fine with that in the Inner Mongolia is limited to undulating mountains and waterways, find great appeal in the endless grassland or desert stretching to the far horizon. Hawaii in the pacific is used by the Chinese visitors only as stopover points for night or two, rather than as a holiday base, simply because the United States offers more contrasting attractiveness.
Today, most of the seasoned tourists become tired of the traditional bus tours, on which they find the lengthy time spent in coach travel from one attraction to another intolerable and uneconomic, and instead they seek vacations offering more leisure time and recreation at one site, which ought to be better representative in a "three S" holiday in Sanya; traditional destinations now offer a wider range of attractions to tourists who seek new things to do -- an example includes: Emei mountains, originally more used by sightseers and pilgrims who admire the beauty of the peaks and pay homage to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, now a growing number of visitors capitalize on it for sports and adventure activities, or an occasion for romance and family funs.Listing and examing tourist attractions is quite a complex undertaking, as one attraction can have immense drawing powers to one tourist while another may dislike and avoid it; it is clear that the attraction itself not only represents the physical features in it, but also its attractiveness depends upon the perception which the potential tourist associates with it. According to the Wikipedia, a tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities. Attractions act as magnet for large number of tourists and offer spots on which various forms of tourism activities can be pursued for recreational, leisure, educational, health and other purposes. These spots and types of tourist activities may include, but are not limited to: all-inclusive resort; health and fitness, for example, biking, horse-riding, diving, skiing, walking, on-and-off trail hiking, and national park tours, spa resort, fitness cruises; medical tourism, for instance, travel abroad for cosmetic surgeries in South Korea, in-vitro fertilization in the US and stem cell treatments in China; golf; adventure, for instance, mountaineering, trekking, safari (in modern times referring to wildlife watching and photographing),bungee jumping, hang gliding, parasailing, mountain biking, adventure cruises, white water rafting and rock climbing; eco-travel as to be seen in birding, photograph and other types of tours focusing on flora, fauna, and cultural heritage at destinations by ecologically and socially conscious individuals; farming and rural holidays, namely, tourists pick fruits and vegetables, learn how farm produce is produced, and drive cattle and so on; gardens and woodlands tour; history, heritage and archaeology as those of tours of ancient buildings, historic towns, battlefields, museums and archaeological sites; industrial heritage tour where there is an awareness that technology and culture for cotton mill, coal mining, salt making, etc. is changing and much that was of significance is in danger of being lost forever; cultural experiences such as visits of cultural and artsites, locations where a film is shot, an observance of music festivals or temple fairs in towns and cities, tourists follow the haunts of a poet or a fictional character, or experience indigenous lifestyle, handicrafts making anti customs m rural areas; romance tourism when women travel to meet foreign partners; perpetual travel such as those never stay long enough to be considered a resident of mainland China and travel back frequently to Hong Kong to avoid the tax obligation, and those travel to the US and stay there long enough to maintain their citizenships; sun and fun; gourmet and shopping; gaming and there's scheme afoot to legalize gambling in the abuliding Hainan Special Administrative Zone of Tourism; theme parks and family entertainment; shows, operas, dramas and exhibitions; cruises; sporting and other events, etc.
Interest in the supernatural power of mineral waters can be traced to the influence of Huangdi， the legendary forefather of Chinese nation, who was said to had immersed himself in the thermal water at Mt. Huangshanfor 49 days, till achieved ascension. Since then, the association between the monarchs and spas was never ceased: Emperor Qin shihuang ordered the building of "Lishan spa" to cure his sores; emperors in the Han dynasty liked to take aromatic baths with spices made to them as tributes from the western tribes; emperor Xuan zong of the Tang dynasty only used wares of peach wood or jade as the apotropaion when bathing, and the emperor Ming huang was very strict with the timing of bath. For the civilians, spas were worshiped as the "divine water" and temples were built to enshrine the sites. Throngs of pilgrims visited and bathed in watering holes in the belief that the “cure” would alleviate their ailments and spas in China continue to benefit from this belief.
In the North Wei dynasty, Mr. Li daoyuan recorded 31 spas in his Shuijing Annotation, and 12 of them were believed to have health benefits. Spas were already well-established during the Sui and Tang dynasties. Their credibility was helped established through poets Li bai's and Bai juyi's works, and their popularity, based on the supposed medical benefits of the waters, had lapsed in subsequent centuries. The spa in Wentang was identified with Mr. Yi chong , who was born there and became the "No.1 imperial scholar" in 846 AD; visitors were drawn to the spa in the hope they would be bathed in his nimbus. Again Wentang became a center of high fashion for the dignitaries in 1149, aided by another native, a young girl who became the imperial concubine of the day.
The pharmaceutical scientist, Mr. Lishizhen of the Ming dynasty, wrote his "Compendium of Materia Medica" which drew attentions to the therapeutic qualities of the spa, and claimed the mineral water baths were effective for the cure of acariasis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. This rapidly led to the popularity of the spa as a place for medical treatment.
In 1932, Mr. Xiong shihui , the governor of Jiangxi province, ordered the construction of a "Pump Room" (regarded as the social heart of bath for more than two centuries, the place to which hot spa water was drawn for drinking, today the Pump Room usually contains a restaurant that is open daily for lunch and light refreshments), a private hospital, buildings for indoor bath, thus turned the spa into a sanatorium. Since then, spas in a number a places, deliberately setting to create an elite and exclusive image, became a major center of social life for high society. Eventually, in the late 1980s, the common characteristic of spas to go "down market" through their life cycle led to a changing clientele, with the cadres replaced by better-off masses, and commercial possibilities opened up by the concentration of these visitors were not overlooked: facilities to entertain or otherwise cater for these visitors proliferated, changing the spas into what we would today tern holiday resorts rather than any else. The attractions of the former spa remain an important element in heritage tourism: spas at Lishan, Huangshan, and Lushan are still popular destinations for tourists due to the attraction of their infrastructure, which was originally built to serve the health needs of tourists.
Many provinces like Yunnan, Tibet, Sichuan, Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan and Taiwan, etc., are rich in mineral or thermal springs, which has great potentials to be turned into spa destinations. Indeed, based on individual locations of the spas, hotels and resorts in Jiuzhaigou, Sanya, Xiamen, Qingdao, Dalian and so on are now in operations where treatments that are using indigenous medicinal herbs, traditional to the local people, are incorporated with the use of the newest medical and therapy technologies. On site services vary but many offer aromatherapy massage, reflexology massage, weight loss, fasting and slimming, detoxification and colonic cleansing. Herbal facial treatments, moor mud wrap, and seaweed alga salt scrubs complement these health and slimming programs in their revitalizing effects. In addition to the spa treatments, many of the spas have full services ranging from hair care, coloring and perm services, manicures, and pedicures.
Vacation at health spas is now a worldwide trend. Thailand, Japan and Bali are among those overseas spa destinations most well known to Chinese holidaymakers. These spas use on site natural source of sea water or spring water in some of their therapy treatments, providing clients with tangible benefits of lifestyle changes through a variety of dietary and nutritional programs, health and therapies of relaxing massages, rejuvenating facials, invigorating body scrubs, and stimulating wraps, performed by qualified personnel or visiting specialists.