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History and relevant background
It is arguably the most attractive of the numerous tourist attractions in Beijing. Its symbolic and rich history has made it one of the go-to places for many tourists who pick China as a destination. The Forbidden city was conceptualized and constructed during the early years of the Ming Dynasty in China (Van Hinsberg, 2018). It is incredibly well-preserved as well as being the largest historical palatial structure on earth. It was where Chinese emperors held court from the 15th century to 1911, a period spanning roughly 500 years. According to the Chinese belief system, the emperor was heaven sent, and hence the Forbidden City was a befitting residence. It was home to twenty-four Ming and Qing dynasty emperors until 1911. The Forbidden City is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1987. The site is an immense city within another that was designed to awe onlookers. Ancient Chinese people were explicitly forbidden from coming near the palace walls, as they were considered hallowed grounds, and hence its name. 30-foot high walls guard the 183-acre site which is filled with pavilions, halls, marble courtyards, and a host of other complex buildings. There are roughly 1000 buildings and about 8000 chambers which host maids and servants. Some of these emperors and helpers lived their entire lives within this city, which is a testament to its monstrous size.
Types of tourists and the motivation for visiting
Historical and cultural tourists are the leading visitors to the Forbidden City since there is still plenty to learn about this past civilization. The foreboding walls and grand palaces display the essence of ancient Chinese architecture. The palace museum is one of the primary attractions with its centuries-old historical and cultural relics. There are ceramics, paintings, jade, and items belonging to the imperial families all maintained in impeccable condition. The Gate of Heavenly Peace and Meridian Gate are heavily visited (Van Hinsberg, 2018). The outer court consisting of three halls, where grand ceremonies were held, is another major attraction.
The destination marketing for the Forbidden City is aggressive since the Chinese authorities understand the great pull it has on tourists. Officials have been advertising in New York with messages of 'Visit Beijing' acting as the one of the many instances that officials have tried to market Chinese tourism (Jingya, 2015).
Contribution to the economy
Tourism is a crucial contributor to the Chinese economy. In 2013, it contributed 2.6 trillion yuan. The figure is projected to hit 5.5 trillion yuan by 2020 representing a GDP portion of 5% according to the Chinese authorities ("China to double domestic spending on tourism", 2018). These figures represent the contributions from travel agents, hotels, passenger services, and transportation. The Forbidden City recorded over 16 million visitors in 2016 with an average of 40,000 visitors per day.
Tourism organizational structure at the destination
Tourism Organizations operating there
Numerous tour and travel companies are operating in Beijing since it is the historical and geographical capital of China. The vast size of the Forbidden City calls for visitors to hire tour guides such as Bespoke Travel Company and The Hutong that offer these types of services. Newman Tours is another that offers experienced English-speaking guides who know the palace thoroughly (Moore, 2016).
Tourism Policy, Planning and Sustainable Development
Tourism depends on the cultural, physical, and environmental resources hence sustainability should be a major factor of any tourist site. Tourism destinations must have a long-term strategic plan to address sustainability ("China to double domestic spending on tourism", 2018). The Forbidden City plays its role in contributing to the Chinese economy by attracting massive numbers of tourists. It is imperative to ensure the site is protected from wear, tear, or vandalism. Restoration works have been done on the Hall of Mental Cultivation located within the museum. Staffers in the Palace Museum utilize technology like 3D-printed models to learn smarter ways of protecting the cultural relics. Digitization of cultural relics makes them available to the public via online channels (Kaihao, 2017). Many heritage sites are endangered, but creativity is the foundation of sustainability of the cultural heritage of the Forbidden City.
The operating sectors conducting business at the destination
Hall of Supreme Harmony
Hall of Central Harmony
Hall of Preserving Harmony
The gate of Heavenly Peace
Meridian Gate (Van Hinsberg, 2018)
Hall of Mental Cultivation
The Imperial Garden and Living Quarters
Walking in the vast hallways with numerous rooms while viewing the displayed cultural relics one of the fun activities. Individuals easily spend a whole day just wandering and taking in the ancient Chinese architecture (Phillips, 2015). Many gift shops sell diverse memorabilia pieces for those who want a lasting memory. A Chinese cafe serves coffee and other delicacies. Photography is allowed, but the restricted areas are marked.
ii) Business Travel
The available tour and travel companies make arrangements for business travellers and corporates to enjoy the sights in the city. Beijing is the Chinese capital hence many business travellers find some time to tour the Forbidden City in between their busy schedules.
iii) Cultural and Heritage Tourism
Chinese have a rich culture dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties (Van Hinsberg, 2018). The curved yellow roofs, the material, and unique architecture of the various temples are simply stunning. The furniture, landscaped gardens and other sightings are a priceless testimony of early Chinese civilization. The Forbidden City represents the apex of Chinese palace-making abilities and gives insights regarding the social development in the last dynasty.
The move to limit the number of visitors is aimed at providing time for renovations and restoration of cultural relics and architecture. The palaces utilize natural ventilation, and the low rooflines ensure that warm air can heat the floors. The imperial garden and parks are well-maintained.
v) Distribution Organization
There are numerous distribution channels for tourism in Beijing, China. Hoteliers use direct channels to reach out to clients, but there is an array of other options. Traditional tools like metasearch engines and online travel agency are numerous. There are also new avenues, like messaging apps and group buying sites, that will help hoteliers and other destinations to market their services (Grant, 2014).
vi) Lodging and Restaurants
Beijing is the capital of China, and a world-renowned destination, hence tourists can expect to find all forms of accommodation (Van Hinsberg, 2018). There are expensive Western-like hotels and others that cater to people travelling on a budget. There are numerous hotels within the Forbidden City area such as Tianan Rega and the Waldorf Astoria.
The likely future of the destination and the benefits to the community
The future of the Forbidden City looks bright since officials have shown their dedication towards the reconstruction of worn-out architecture and regulation of the daily number of visitors. These are sustainable moves that will safeguard the future of this heritage site for many more generations.
Identify at least one problem caused by customers
Some problems arise from the tourists in the Forbidden City, such as the destruction of priceless relics and paintings using 'selfie-sticks' (Phillips, 2015). The devices were banned from the heritage site due to that reason. There are also concerns about the sheer numbers, reaching up to 14 million annually, and the likelihood of inflicting major damages.
Based on the literature and your fieldwork, present a solution
Regulating the numbers is a good way of giving the officials time to put repair teams in lace to maintain the palaces in excellent condition ("China to double domestic spending on tourism", 2018). Another viable solution is to place closed-circuit cameras to monitor the crowds and make the job of the Forbidden City officers efficient.
The Forbidden City is one of the most visited places on earth. The rich culture and heritage of China have been excellently maintained over the years. It was the seat of power for ancient China, and home to the emperors. Chinese officials have decided to limit the number of visitors, which has reached an astonishing 14 million per annum, to allow for renovation and thus sustainability. The heritage site will serve many more generations if the current level of conservation is maintained
It is a must-visit site for tourists who are interested in cultural and historical matters. The Forbidden City teaches a lot about Chinese architecture and way of life.
China to double domestic spending on tourism. (2018). CNBC. Retrieved 5 April 2018, from https://www.cnbc.com/2014/08/21/china-to-double-domestic-spending-on-tourism-by-2020.html
Grant, M. (2014). Analysis of China's distribution channels. Hotelnewsnow.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018, from http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/23102/Analysis-of-Chinas-distribution-channels
Jingya, Z. (2015). China launches US-oriented tourism strategy - CCTV News - CCTV.com English. English.cntv.cn. Retrieved 5 April 2018, from http://english.cntv.cn/2015/03/26/VIDE1427301241629468.shtml
Kaihao, W. (2017). Forbidden City shares tech ideas with other museums. Chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 5 April 2018, from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/culture/2017-11/29/content_35117831.htm
Moore, P. (2016). Beijing's best tours and tour companies. Timeoutbeijing.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018, from http://www.timeoutbeijing.com/features/Visiting_Beijing-Beijing_tours/154456/Beijings-best-tours-and-tour-companies.html
Phillips, T. (2015). China's Forbidden City forbids selfie sticks. Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2018, from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/11482712/Chinas-Forbidden-City-forbids-selfie-sticks.html
Van Hinsberg, G. (2018). The Forbidden City - 9999 Rooms for 14 Emperors. ChinaHighlights. Retrieved 5 April 2018, from https://www.chinahighlights.com/beijing/forbidden-city/
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