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Changes to protect Chinese travelers
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The United States National Tour Association yesterday announced changes to the China Inbound Program, including new requirement on tour operators that participate in the program, to ensure Chinese leisure travel groups to the US "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.

The new criteria for participation in the CIP is backed by the China National Tourism Administration and the US 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 US organization working in an official capacity with this market as part of the MOU (memorandum of understanding)."

The US and China signed the MOU in December 2007 to facilitate Chinese group leisure travel to the US.

NTA's CIP was created to assist NTA tour operators in working with Chinese travel agencies to organize and market packaged group leisure tours to the US.

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 motor coach subcontractors and make sure they are properly licensed in the state of operation, it said.

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

(Xinhua News Agency July 15, 2009)

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