Ronald N. Levy (Sep. 19, 2013): The challenge--and the Chinese can meet it if somebody over there in government realizes that they must try--is to create an infrastructure before selling more tourists on going there. I've enjoyed three delightful trips (PR expert Joe Honick has been there more) to the gateway cities of China: Beijing, Shanghai (where restaurants are absolutely world-class and one is on the 43d floor of a glass skyscraper), Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong and I was EXTREMELY eager to buy the Orient Express rail journey from Beijing through western China and Mongolia and ending in Moscow which is also a marvelous destination.
But when I tried to book it at something close to what U.S. rail journeys cost (and you'd imagine it might cost less since labor there costs less than here) the Chinese wanted more than double--and for only two toilets to a whole railroad car--and I finally gave up.
(I am not on the decision-making level in my family.)
Great U.S. PR firms can easily sell Western China (Xian is one of the most incredible sights on earth) but it's not easy to buy and I get the feeling that the country is not yet prepared to deliver.
Let's hope the PR contract lasts for longer than it takes for China to have western facilities for tourists. Otherwise the Chinese are ikely to blame the PR firm and not a lack of tourist facilities.