Ctrip steps up to meet hiking demand

Travel operator Ctrip launched a platform especially for those seeking walking and climbing holidays.

Online travel operator Ctrip launched a one-stop platform for tourists seeking a break in the outdoors, and introduced a set of hiking standards on Sunday.

The platform brings together about 100 licensed outdoor agencies and several thousand trekking itineraries covering domestic destinations such as Gansu, Tibet and Yunnan and countries like Iceland, Nepal, and Tanzania.

Nearly 10,000 tourists booked hiking tours on Ctrip last year, more than three times the number for the previous year.

Standards were released on Sunday by Ctrip that categorized hikes into nine levels of difficulty, based on factors such as peak height, time and rescue support.

The outdoor tours in China are not regulated and small agencies rarely work with mountaineering association. They lack rescue support in case of emergencies and are not familiar with hiking routes, said Zhang Yi, director of the outdoors arm of Ctrip.

Southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces were the most popular domestic destinations last year, while Nepal, Japan and Indonesia were the most favored overseas, according to Ctrip.

Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve and Siguniang Mountain area in Sichuan, Meili Snow Mountain in Yunnan, Poon Hill and Mount Kilimanjaro were some of the most popular destinations.

Shanghai was largest source of climbers, followed by Sichuan and Beijing.

People aged between 31 and 40 years old accounted for 40 percent of climbers last year, followed by those aged between 41 and 60 years old, accounting for 31 percent.

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