【Summit Senior Figures Interview】Interview with Cheng Hong, Executive Deputy Chairperson of the WTCF Council and Vice Mayor of Beijing

Publish Time:2016-10-14 19:56:00Source:WTCF

【Introduction】:On September 20th, Cheng Hong, newly- elected Executive Deputy Chairperson of the WTCF Council and Vice Mayor of Beijing, accepted an interview from representatives of Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, and other media organizations. She answered questions regarding this year’s summit, development of WTCF and international tourism organizations.

On September 19th-20th, World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) Chongqing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2016 was held in Chongqing. About 400 guests from 89 cities and 57 tourism-related institutions and representatives from 6 international organizations attended the summit. It was a successful and fruitful summit. During the summit, the general election of the Council was held and Chairman City and Vice- Chairman Cities of the Council were elected. On September 20th, Cheng Hong, newly- elected Executive Deputy Chairperson of the WTCF Council and Vice Mayor of Beijing, accepted an interview from representatives of Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, and other media organizations. She answered questions regarding this year’s summit, development of WTCF and international tourism organizations.

Attraction Capability, Service Capability, Leadership and Influence - Five Years of Hard Work, WTCF Fulfilled Its Original Target.

Since the foundation of WTCF, its member has increased from original 58 to 174, including 117 city members and 57 institutional members. 70% of them are international cities and cover most of the famous metropolises of the world and international influential tourism institutions. In addition, the 6 sub-committees, namely the Expert Committee, Tourism-Related Businesses Committee, Committee of Civil Aviation, Committee of Media Organizations, Committee of Cruise and Committee of Investment, cover most of the key chains for urban tourism development to become international influential tourism organizations.

Cheng Hong summarized the development of WTCF in the past five years into “four capabilities”: “In my opinion, WTCF’s contribution to world tourism industry and city members can be summarized into four capabilities: attraction capability, service capability, leadership and influence.”

Ms. Cheng further explained. Firstly, the attraction capability of WTCF is manifested in number of members. It increased from 58 to 174, which means more than 20 new members every year. Secondly, it was manifested in the number of cities bidding for the Fragrant Hills Summit. She participated in the summit bidding for several successive years and she recalled: “After experiencing summit biddings recent years, I could feel that all the members are very active in the competition. In the 2014 Summit, there were 5 cities bidding for the 2015 Summit. Mayor of Washington D.C. gave the presentation himself, and they brought a large campaign team and well prepared materials in both Chinese and English. At last, Washington D.C. lost the bidding by a narrow margin. Contrary to Washington’s disappointment, representatives from the winning cities Rabat & Fez jumped, shouted and waved arms with great joy. It reminded me when China won the 2008 Olympics. The enthusiasm of application and the fierce competition showed attraction of WTCF and the Summit itself. ”

Besides, the Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit member attendance fully reflected WTCF’s attraction. The member attendance of the Summit was between 75%-80% every year. About 400 delegates from 89 city members attended this year’s summit.

Ms. Cheng attributed the enhancement of WTCF’s attraction capability to its improving services and guidance. “As a communication and cooperation platform, WTCF has been focusing on member cooperation for the past five years. We constantly promoted communication & cooperation between cities, between institutions, as well as between city and institution. On this year’s Summit, a good example is the cooperation contract between Chongqing and Washington D.C. municipal governments.”

The 2015 Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit was held in Rabat & Fez in Morocco. WTCF and institutional members including CITS and other famous travel agencies in China organized “Thousands of Chinese Tourists to Magnificent Morocco”. It enhanced the awareness of Morocco in the Chinese travel market, increased Chinese citizen’s choice of overseas tourism destinations, and enlightened our passion to Morocco. In June 2016, Morocco put forwarded the visa-free policy for Chinese citizens, which showed the value of Chinese market to Morocco’s national economic and social development.

With the assistance of WTCF, city members and institutional members carried out various communication and cooperation ventures in the past five years. WTCF facilitated its institutional member Air China to launch the new routes: Beijing-Budapest, Beijing-Washington D.C., Chengdu-Seoul and others. WTCF assisted Dalian to establish a strategic partnership with Budapest and Prague; supported Guangzhou in visiting member cities including London, Lisbon, and Dublin; promoted communication and cooperation among cities along the “One Belt, One Road” area; held themed forums including “Silk Road Tourism Cooperation Forum” and “International Forum on ‘One Belt, One Road’ and Tourism Cooperation 2016”.

Ms. Cheng said: “Each year, the summit will organize various communication and negotiation activities to provide better services to members, including themed forums, council meetings, sub-committee meetings, marketplaces, tourism presentations, and world tourism cities expo. According to the secretariat, WTCF set up a total of 13,000 m2 exhibitions in the last five year’s summits, attracted 469 organizations to the tourism marketplaces, achieved 4,500 intentional cooperation and trade amount reached RMB 2.3 billion (USD 360 million). The newly established Committee of Investment in this year’s summit increasingly expanded tourism investment & financing cooperation channel. During the investment fair this year, more than 80 cooperation projects were collected and intended investment reached RMB 107.13 billion (about USD 16 billion). In the summit, the city exhibition and trade negotiation were based on one-on-one practical cooperation, and made significant achievement every year. ” Ms. Cheng then indicated that WTCF constantly offers services to members, attracted new members, and earned trust of old members.

Next, she introduced the academic research results of WTCF in recent years and said it was the specific embodiment of WTCF’s attraction. “These years, we launched a series of standards and reports. First is the Framework of Tourism Service Guidelines of Tourism Cities Development. It was launched at the first summit called Beijing Consensus. This is a service standard on elevating integral level of tourism cities and it set tourism developing improving tourism service as the key in developing tourism. It pioneered in improving overall software and hardware of tourism cities according to international standards. Members of the WTCF Expert Committee once took a special trip to the city member Yangzhou for on-site consultation, and helped them to improve tourism work based on our standard. Second is launching evaluation system of world tourism cities development. This is a comprehensive system and is ranking cities based on the evaluation system. The third is launching the Market Research Report on Chinese Outbound Tourist (City) Consumption. The data of this report is very important for all international city members and is jointly launched with other tourism related organizations. As everyone knows, the Chinese tourist is considered as one of the most important travel resources for tourism cities around the world. Therefore, the tourism departments of many international cities are trying to understand consumption demand of Chinese tourists to better meet their needs. This report helps international tourism cities to conduct better tourism service for Chinese tourist. Secretariat of WTCF specifically organized the international Tourist Destination Cities and Marketing Promotion and Marketing Training Program' this year to introduce topics on 'how to do publicity and promotion in China', 'how to do marketing', and 'how to cooperate with Chinese enterprises and media'. Many international city members actively participated and praised the course. ” She stressed again that the increase of WTCF attraction capability is the object result of WTCF constantly improving service and guidance.

The influence of WTCF lies on the results of its development in last five years. In 2013, WTCF and the International Health and Environment Organization co-hosted round table meeting themed on “Urban Sustainable Development and Tourism” at U.N. Headquarters; In 2014, WTCF signed strategic cooperation agreement with Pacific Asia Travel Association; In 2015, WTCF signed MOU with the Global Tourism Economy Forum and a strategic cooperation agreement were also signed during the Summit that year. The two sides are now actively carrying out the performance research project of the city tourism industry. All these are concrete achievement that WTCF, as an international organization, has been playing a leading role in world tourism industry, building a cooperation and exchange platform for tourism cities and promoting development of international tourism industry. In 2015, WTCF won the World Tourism Industry Leadership Award issued by the World Travel Market, which has received wide attention from global industries.

“With five year’s development, WTCF is gradually recognized as an international tourism organization by the world.” Cheng Hong said, “Last year, more than 300 members from 42 countries and regions attended the summit held in Rabat & Fez, and over 120 international and Chinese media participated in the follow-on reports of the summit. Representatives from International organizations and ministers and mayors from world city members all came to Morocco for the summit; and the host Morocco, as a developing country, prepared and held the summit successfully. Undoubtedly these show the recognition and influence of WTCF as an international tourism organization by the world.”

Cheng Hong concluded that WTCF has essentially fulfiled its original development goals and the functions to be realized in the beginning stage with the gradual promotion of the four capabilities, and even exceeded expectations on some aspects.

Achievements of WTCF— China Makes a Difference and Has Strong Responsibility

As the global economy continues to worsen in recent years, the global tourism industry stands alone as an important driving force for boosting the global economy and promoting the employment. In 2014, the direct tourism investment in China reached RMB 680 billion with a year-on-year growth of 32%. “WTCF plays an irreplaceable role in promoting the sustainable development of the world tourism industry and making a difference as a great nation.” Cheng Hong said, “Tourism city is a fine starting point for WTCF. It helps them to avoid some cooperative mechanism difficulties as well as some complex and sensitive issues involved in state ideology and diplomacy.”

“The flourish of WTCF is mainly due to the development of world tourism industry, a leading new normal economy. As the new hope of global economic recovery, tourism industry is one of the most significant industries at present, and also an emerging industry to achieve industry transformation, develop service industry, keep balance between economic development and ecology and promote employment. While focusing on the development of world tourism industry, WTCF has discovered some problems that tourism cities are facing and received great supports from all member cities in the aspect of exploring cooperation." Cheng Hong added.

“China's voices in many industries are still weak, but we could grasp the opportunity to issue industry standards to the world as the biggest tourism resource and make a voice belonging to China, which is very meaningful to our future’s development. We need to take root in this field and give full play to the role of the platform so as to raise the influence of China. ”

Other matters help to increase China's influence includes: The headquarters of WTCF is in Beijing; the official language is English and Chinese; member cities need to prepare Chinese application materials. All these are important factors to boost the dissemination of Chinese characters, cultures and influence. “The bidding cities need to study Chinese culture when preparing their bidding materials to show a kindness and friendliness gesture.” Cheng Hong said.

Look to the Future, Strengthen Organization Construction

When answering the questions about the future development of WTCF, Cheng Hong said, “There is still a lot of room for WTCF to strength advantages and play more important role in world tourism industry. Externally, implement our important strategies through communication channel of cities and internally form cohesion among member cities, expand coverage and standardize the internal management. Next step, WTCF needs to further improve its international influence, representativeness and normalization as new council was just elected; further develop membership, expand coverage and improve the organization of internal committees. For example, Europe is a very mature tourism market, with about 400 tourism cities of all sizes. WTCF has 41 members from Europe right now, so the next step we need to strength our efforts to absorb more members in Europe. The more cities are involved, the more cooperation opportunities we can get and the better win-win solution we will achieve.” Cheng Hong said that to better serve members, WTCF is considering to establish branches offices in other important international cities, or to gather the strength of all cities around the world by recommending the council candidates in each continent respectively during the General Election of the Council.

When talking about “Sharing Economy and Development of World Tourism Cities”, the theme of this year’s summit, Cheng Hong said that this theme conforms to the development trend of Internet economy. In the information age, the new patterns and formats of the economy have a profound impact on all walks of life, especially the tourism industry. “All of our members should be aware of the opportunity that sharing economy brings to us and objectively face the challenge it brings while following it up. We also advocate learning more patterns and formats of sharing economy and using new technologies to realize the new development of tourism industry."

At the end of the interview, Cheng Hong, gave thanks to all members and media for their enthusiastic support and active involvement for the last five years. She showed in full confidence that WTCF will serve the members better and make more contributions to the development of the global tourism economy in the future.

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