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Guiding tours in China

These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.

Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.

Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*

When am I likely to be considered to be conducting a tourism business or operating as a regulated tour guide in China?

You are likely to be considered to be conducting a tourism business in China under the Tourism Law if you “organize tourism activities for trips, vacations, or other leisure activities in China and organize such activities from China to abroad and provide relevant services".

You may also be considered a regulated tour guide if you are providing guiding, explanation or other relevant tourism services. In practice, if you provide an experience in any historic or famous scenic spot where an entrance fee might be charged, then you are very likely to be viewed as a regulated tour guide and will need to obtain a tour guide license.

Here are some examples of when you are likely to be considered to be acting as a regulated tour guide:

  • I take someone on a guided tour to the Summer Palace, during which I explain the Qing Dynasty’s history.
  • I take someone on a guided tour to Yu Yuan where I explain the history of Yu Yuan and Ming Dynasty architecture more generally; I follow up with a guided tour to Shanghai City Temple and Nanjing East Pedestrian Street.
  • I take someone to the Shenzhen Safari Park where I provide detailed explanations about the animals and a scientific description of animal species encountered there.
  • I take someone to the Hangzhou Lingyin Temple where I provide a detailed explanation about the history of Buddhism and ancient Chinese architecture.

Here are some examples of when you are not likely to be considered to be acting as a regulated tour guide:

  • I take two to three guests to eat at my favorite restaurant and then take them home to show them how to make dumplings.
  • I hold a calligraphy class for guests and teach guests how to do calligraphy at my art studio; I meet my guests at a local concert to enjoy the music and have a general discussion, including a detailed explanation of ancient Chinese music.

What if I am considered to be conducting a tourism business in China: Do I need to obtain a travel agency or tour guide licence? How do I do so?

Yes.

For more information on travel agency permission, please refer to the relevant provisions of the competent tourism departments in your province and city. You can find a link to the local tourism government website at the bottom of the National Tourism Administration website.

To obtain a tour guide licence, you should note that you will need to pass the National Tour Qualification Test (subjects include Chinese history, tourism-related laws, tourism research and ancient architecture). For additional legal requirements for obtaining the tour guide licence, please refer to the Guidance Management Measures newly formulated by the National Tourism Administration and the pilot program for independent tour guides applicable in some locations (from 2016, the National Tourism Administration has been piloting independent tour guides in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Sanya in Hainan and Chengdu in Sichuan. Regarding specific implementation requirements, we recommend you consult the relevant local tourism bureau).

After you have obtained a tour guide license from one province but plan to practice in another province, please make sure that you have obtained approval from the relevant authorities in the province where you actually practice.

Regarding specific operational information of application for travel agency and tour guide licence, we suggest you consult the local authorities and local tourism industry organizations to ensure that you comply with the relevant laws and regulations.

What if I am registered as a tourism business - do I need to engage a licensed tourist guide / tourism worker?

If you are a registered tourism business, then you need to engage a licensed tour guide, otherwise you yourself should be a licensed tour guide.

You should be aware that a registered tourism business who engages an unlicensed tour guide or tourism worker for the purposes of providing interpretation or guide services may face penalties of RMB 20,000 to RMB 100,000.

Is there anything else I should think about?

If your experience will involve other activities (for example, serving or providing food or alcohol, or providing transportation), please take a look at our other information sections to determine if any other rules might apply to your activity.

*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).