A bird's-eye view of Beijing's central business district. (Photo: VCG)
Beijing will further open its services market to foreign investors in several industries including tourism, internet access services and non-profit nursing institutions for the aged, as well as audio and video products, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Liu Meiying, spokeswoman of Beijing municipal government's commerce bureau, said the State Council has approved the measures the capital has proposed to further open the city's services industry to foreign capital in early November.
According to the new measures, Beijing will allow wholly foreign-owned companies to provide outbound travel services to customers.
In 2003, the first wholly foreign-owned travel agency was set up in China. However, there were limitations on its service, as it could not offer outbound travel products.
Wang Yue, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, said the new measure will enrich the outbound travel products in the market and bring more competition to their domestic counterparts which would be beneficial for the long-term development of the industry.
"The international tourism business mode and advanced management will become a good incentive to the market and consumption, which will help to meet the growing demand from the public," she said.
Zhang Guodong, a senior official at online travel agency ly.com, has a positive view of the new policy.
"It will not have any huge impact for the industry because China's tourism industry is growing rapidly and has created a huge market for different niche customers. Online travel businesses have developed even faster, with an annual growth rate of 35 to 40 percent," he said.
Compared with the United States and Europe, whose online travel market is growing at 45 percent to 50 percent annually, China still has enormous growth potential, he added.
"The new policy will only bring a better experience to the market and the customers. It won't be a big threat to domestic travel agencies. Together with foreign-owned travel agencies, we should cooperate and make the market bigger and better."
In addition to the tourism industry, Beijing will call off the limits on shares of foreign investment in the internet access service industry.
In the past, foreign capital could not take more than 50 percent of the shares of companies providing internet access services.
Zhu Chunxia, an official at Beijing's communication management bureau, said the new policy will attract more foreign capital to set up telecommunication companies in Beijing, offering better service to its residents.
Foreign capital will be allowed to invest in the audio and video products production business within certain Chinese cultural bases in the capital by cooperating with their Chinese partners, according to the new regulation. But the Chinese side should take the major share in those firms and be responsible for checking the content.