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Tourist cities must work together, officials told

Updated: 2014-09-05 /By Song Mengxing (China Daily)
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Tourist cities must work together, officials told

Cities that attract tourists should work more closely with their peers and industry organizations and develop policies to boost the travel sector, government officials and other delegates were told at the Beijing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit.

The two-day event is hosted by the World Tourism Cities Federation, a leading international nonprofit travel association, and has attracted participants from home and abroad.

"It is necessary for Kunming to cooperate with other cities to attract foreign visitors," said Huang Junfeng, director of the Yunnan provincial capital's tourism development commission, a WTCF member.

The city's 72-hour visa-free policy has been approved by the State Council and is likely to come into force in October.

"We will leverage the policy to cooperate with neighboring nations, including Laos and Thailand, where numerous tourists come from Europe and the US every year," Huang said.

"We will also ask travel agencies in neighboring countries to include Kunming on their routes."

Mudanjiang in Heilongjiang province is adopting a similar strategy, said Guo Dongxia, deputy director of the city's travel bureau.

Members of the Mudanjiang governmental delegation and travel agencies mingled with participants from other tourism cities and organizations as part of efforts to improve cooperation with fellow WTCF members.

Mudanjiang offers subsidies to local travel agencies to market the city in South Korea.

Wei Xianfeng, deputy mayor of Luoyang, Henan province, said he believes governments should support and help travel agencies in terms of policies and administrative services, rather than interfering in their business.

The government of Luo-yang and local travel companies link up at the Heluo Cultural Tourism Festival every September, an event that attracts folk art groups from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.

Foreign delegates also recognize the importance of cooperating on marketing. Peter Romer Hansen, vice-president of Wonderful Copenhagen, works closely with a large number of travel agencies. In addition, the Danish organization works with airlines from northern Europe to woo tourists.

"Though there are big challenges, we believe in the principle that we should not work on our own in this industry," said Hansen.

Provatas Fotios, an official from the Greek capital, Athens, said the city's government encourages travel agencies there to open outlets in China and attract Chinese tourists.

Fotios led delegations to Shenzhen and Shanghai to promote Athens.

"We succeeded, and the two cities cooperate with us very well," said Fotios.

The Greek government offers subsidies to domestic tourism companies to market the country overseas.

songmengxing@chinadaily.com.cn

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