Soaring U.S. Consumer Demand for China Adventure Travel
February 18, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel NewsWith the 2008 Beijing Olympics just around the corner, it is little wonder that many Americans have China on their minds. But scratch traditional tourist destinations like Beijing and Shanghai, says one U.S. tour operator – today's traveler is looking for the rugged thrill of once-elusive regions like Tibet and Mongolia, where culture and terrain still remain relatively pristine.
“Instead of routine itineraries, we’re seeing higher demand for the rugged backcountry. People are becoming aware that China offers a huge amount of scenery and culture – perhaps more diversity than any other place on earth,” said Daniel Kwoh, CEO of Los Angeles-based tour operator Let’s Travel China, Inc.
Let’s Travel China says it launched its Adventure Series of tours – covering Tibet, Mongolia, Everest and the Silk Road — on its company website www.LetsTravelChina.com about two months ago and was stunned by the high response. Customers immediately began flooding the company with inquiries about the tours, which will begin in April.
“Even without any major advertising, the demand has been two to three times higher than we expected,” Kwoh said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”
The response is indeed promising for the young tour operator, which launched as a niche business two years ago under parent company Seven Blue Seas Vacations.
The Adventure Series, which joins the company’s Classical and Luxury Series, features four different itineraries: Tibet Train, Silk Road, Mongolia Naadam, and Everest Explorer. Let’s Travel China ensures the quality and safety of its tours by using trained expert guides and capping all tours at 24 persons.
The highly popular Tibet Train tour takes travelers past spectacular mountains and plateaus aboard the highest railway in the world: the Qinghai-Lhasa railroad. The railway, completed just last year, features oxygen-enriched cars to protect passengers against altitude sickness (average coasting altitude: 16,000 feet). After disembarking, travelers are given guided tours of ancient monasteries and temples, where monks can still be seen spinning their prayer wheels. Dog-lovers will also enjoy a tour of a breeding center for the Tibetan Mastiff, an ancient breed of dog famous for its gargantuan size.
Travelers opting for the Silk Road tour will find themselves retracing the footsteps of Marco Polo, migrant Buddhist monks and trader-merchants along a historical route dating back 4,000 years. The tour also visits the highest natural arch in the world, Shipton’s Arch, rediscovered only several years ago by a team of National Geographic explorers. The group then continues on to Kashgar, where travelers can roam the bustling Sunday market, still teeming today with thousands of merchants selling their wares and livestock.
Perhaps the most intriguing itinerary belongs to the Mongolia Naadam Tour, a once-a-year journey during the annual Naadam Festival. Travelers can watch archery and horseback riding competitions, join in colorful festivities of song and dance, and listen to evening folklore. The tour also features camel riding, tours of dinosaur excavations, an overnight stay at an authentic Ger camp, and personal visits with nomads.
Truly fearless travelers can join the Everest Explorer Tour, an expedition that begins in Beijing and escorts tourists all the way to the famous Everest Base Camp, where they’ll spend one night at an altitude of 17,000 feet.
CEO Kwoh predicts that the popularity of these four itineraries represents just the beginning of a sweeping trend. “I predict that one day soon, the popularity of these destinations will overtake that of any other destination you can think of, including Europe, Africa and South America,” Kwoh said.
But as with most good things, there’s a catch. Kwoh warns that while rugged regions like Mongolia and Tibet have yet to become mainstream destinations, potential travelers should act fast if they want to see the untouched “primeval” China from centuries past.
“These regions have remained largely untouched by civilization until now, but with the Chinese economy rapidly improving, the Chinese themselves will become more interested in touring these regions,” Kwoh said. “You don’t know at what point commercialization will take over.”
But for now, the backcountry of China still presents a scenic paradise to the thirsty adventurer. Travelers trekking to the Himalayas can see dramatic glacial falls, hanging glaciers, and even wild pandas. And there’s always room for a second trip with a full spectrum of terrain on offer – from grasslands and lakes, to spectacular plateaus, to towering mountain ranges.
# # #
Let's Travel China, Inc.
1111 S. Arroyo Parkway, Suite 490
Pasadena, CA 91105