China hot lines ready to take heat for better service
China has set up tourist-complaint hot lines in 31 Chinese cities with the aim of improving service. A news release announcing the hot lines, staffed by English-speaking operators, said "Tourists are welcome to dial the phone numbers to fire their complaints for the sake of improving the hospitality industry in China."
Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Tianjin, Xian and Guangzhou are among the major tourist cities with hot line numbers. A complete list can be obtained from the China National Tourist Office, 333 W. Broadway, Suite 201, Glendale, Calif. 91204; call (818) 545-7504.
Pay phones aren't readily available in China, and calling a hot line number would mean using a phone at a hotel as a guest, using a phone at a sponsoring organization, such as a tour operator, or going to a central phone office.
The Chinese also are promoting an emergency travel assistance line operated through China International Travel Service (CITS), the official travel agency. The line is supposed to help cut red tape in the event of serious illness or injury. That number, dialed within China, is 603-1185.
San Francisco bound? Book your own hotel reservations by dialing (800) 677-1550, San Francisco Reservations, the city's central hotel reservation service.
Expect these price ranges per night per room: For a motel and motor inn, $50-$98; trendy "boutique" hotels, $58-$155; and $99- $325 for a luxury hotel.
Contact San Francisco Reservations, 22-2nd St., San Francisco, Calif. 94105.
National Car Rental has announced plans to install cellular phones in all its vehicles. Installations began last month and are expected to be completed nationwide within a year. The plan calls for use charges to be billed when the car is returned, eliminating the need for renters to bill calls to a credit card at the time the calls are placed.
Cuba closer to Caribbean membership
Cuba, which enjoys a busy tourist trade from Canada, Germany and other countries -- but not from the United States, whose citizens are prohibited from traveling there -- has moved a step closer in its quest to become a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
The organization, which represents 28 islands plus Venezuela and Belize, said that Cuba's application for membership, which has been on file for several years, would be considered at the next board meeting, to be held on the island of Curacao June 27.
The application has been blocked in past years by an objection from Grenada. But at a board meeting in New York last month, organization members were surprised by an announcement by Joan Purcell, Grenada's minister of tourism, that since Cuba had formally recognized the Grenada government, Grenada no longer objected to Cuba's application.
An official of the CTO emphasized that at the Curacao meeting there is more likely to be a discussion on the subject than a decision.
Ralph Garcia, Cuba's director of tourism in Canada, said that his XTC country was eager to become part of a unified Caribbean voice. He said that in 1990 the number of foreign visitors to Cuba rose to 340,329 and that, although final figures were not yet available, last year showed another increase. About 100,000 Canadian vacationers visited last year.
United States citizens are prohibited by the United States Treasury Department from spending money in Cuba, which effectively bars tourism to the island.