Tourism delegates descend on Beijing

Publish Time:2013-10-10

【Introduction】:Representatives of tourism bureaus from around the world gathered in Beijing on Thursday for the second meeting of the World Tourism Cities Federation Council.

Representatives of tourism bureaus from around the world gathered in Beijing on Thursday for the second meeting of the World Tourism Cities Federation Council, giving them an opportunity to seal deals and exchange ideas on boosting business.

Among those destinations represented was Wellington on New Zealand's North Island, which is a sister city of Beijing. Tourism officials there have been working closely with Beijing officials in recent years to increase the flow of tourists in both directions.

Katie Sadleir, manager of Economic Growth, City Growth and Partnerships, on Wellington City Council, has been involved in these efforts and says they have already proved fruitful.

"A growing number of students are coming to study in New Zealand, so their families visit them. It's a longer stay, which is good for tourism," she said.

She said there were 145,000 Chinese visitors to the city in 2011 and the number rose to about 200,000 last year. By 2015, the numbers are expected to have reached around 260,000.

In April, New Zealand's government signed a strategic agreement with China Southern Airlines, securing more cooperation on flight operations, marketing and tourism development. The airline is also increasing direct flights from China to Auckland.

"Direct flights are very important. When you have short holidays, it's essential to go directly to the destination," Sadleir said.

Ivan Totev, mayor of the Municipality of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, was also at the meeting in Beijing, and he echoed Sadleir's views on direct flights. He said the country's priority is to establish the first direct flight between Bulgaria and China, because it's the best way to bring in more Chinese tourists.

Delegates also noted the role of movies and other media events in raising the profile of a city as a tourist destination. For Wellington, that means its role as a location for major movie shoots, most notably the fantasy series The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Afif Bin Bahardin, the Penang State Executive Councilor from Malaysia, said that his own country has benefited from the phenomenon. He said many global documentaries and movies are shot in Penang, such as Chinese A-lister Fan Bingbing's recent romantic comedy One Night Surprise.

With the Hollywood studios on its doorstep, Los Angeles has a clear advantage in the movie stakes, and was also represented at Thursday's event.

Gao Li, an employee at the Beijing office of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, said, "The Chinese market is seen as being of great importance by tourism agencies and authorities in the United States."

A total of 460,000 Chinese tourists made trips to Los Angeles last year, and the movie capital expects at least 520,000 visitors from China this year. Her office is featuring a host of high-end routes for the growing middle class in China, she added.

Easing travel restrictions and visa application processes can also have a big impact on attracting visitors, said delegates.

Frans van der Avert, CEO of Amsterdam Marketing, which takes a lead role in attracting tourists to the Netherlands, said there had been an annual increase of 15 percent in the number of Chinese tourists in the capital, and that more were expected since the visa application process had been improved.

"There are a lot of Chinese tourists coming to Amsterdam for the tulips and windmills," he said. "About 200,000 travelers from China came to my city last year, and the number is growing quickly."

Cathy Kim, a promotion officer with the Seoul Tourism Organization, said at least 1,500 Chinese people visited Seoul's booth on Thursday, and most of them were eager to know about tourist attractions in the South Korean capital city.

"In order to attract potential tourists, we will give each visitor a nice book on sightseeing in Seoul once they have followed our Sina Weibo account. We have also brought two craftswomen from Seoul to the event to display traditional Korean arts, and it seems like the tactic has worked," she said, pointing to a crowd of curious visitors.

She said millions of trips were made by Chinese tourists to Seoul in 2012.

Daningsih Sulaeman, marketing director at the tourism promotion board of Bandung, Indonesia's third-largest city, said her city plans to take advantage of its profound ties with China.

"You can discover many things that are closely connected to Chinese culture in Bandung. We have a Chinatown and a lot of Chinese restaurants. Our people can even say some Chinese blessings," she said.

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