China-Europe tourism ties set to deepen

Trav­el­ing ‘Bei­jing Day’ events deepen at­ten­dees’ aware­ness of city’s charm, Yuan Sheng­gao re­ports.

China Daily European Weekly - - ADVERTORIAL -

The Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion of Tourism De­vel­op­ment held a pic­ture show in Pod­gor­ica, cap­i­tal of Mon­tene­gro, in mid-Septem­ber to show­case the Chi­nese cap­i­tal’s charm, spark­ing a new craze among lo­cal res­i­dents.

The event aimed to pro­mote Bei­jing’s rep­u­ta­tion and in­flu­ence in Mon­tene­gro, and to in­spire lo­cals to visit, the or­ga­niz­ers said.

With the theme of re­trac­ing the Silk Road and dis­cov­er­ing the new Bei­jing, the ex­hi­bi­tion con­sisted of three sec­tions fea­tur­ing the cap­i­tal’s his­tory, moder­nity and cul­ture, re­spec­tively.

The vivid pic­tures de­picted a mul­ti­fac­eted East­ern city that com­bines an­cient ap­peal and mod­ern fash­ion, and helped vis­i­tors to bet­ter un­der­stand Bei­jing.

The event grabbed the head­lines in lo­cal me­dia be­cause it at­tracted a throng of vis­i­tors.

The event took place on the open­ing day of a may­ors fo­rum on Sept 15, when del­e­gates from China and Cen­tral and East­ern Europe dis­cussed is­sues of green de­vel­op­ment and gov­ern­ments’ role in cre­at­ing a busi­ness-friendly en­vi­ron­ment. So, the pic­ture show also en­joyed high pop­u­lar­ity with the fo­rum’s par­tic­i­pants.

As a coun­try in­volved in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, Mon­tene­gro is rich in tourism re­sources.

The ini­tia­tive was pro­posed by China in 2013 to in­crease in­ter­na­tional ex­changes via the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road. Since then, China and Mon­tene­gro have made break­throughs in their tourism co­op­er­a­tion.

Start­ing in mid-April, the Euro­pean coun­try on the south­west­ern Balkan Penin­sula has ex­empted Chi­nese tourist agen­cies from visa ap­pli­ca­tions for group tours, as the two sides signed an agree­ment on tourism mar­ket access.

Af­ter the visa- free pol­icy, the part­ner­ship be­tween the tourism com­mu­ni­ties in the two coun­tries is ex­pected to grow stronger and closer un­der the frame­work of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. Both sides have ex­pressed keen in­ter­est, and con­di­tions for the col­lab­o­ra­tion are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ma­ture, in­dus­trial in­sid­ers said.

Fol­low­ing the pic­ture show in Mon­tene­gro, neigh­bor­ing Ser­bia cel­e­brated Bei­jing Day in the coun­try’s cap­i­tal Bel­grade on Sept 16.

It was the first Bei­jing Day in Bel­grade, said its Mayor, Sin­isa Mali.

“I be­lieve that the event will fur­ther en­hance the mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, co­op­er­a­tion and friend­ship of the two cities,” Mali said. “It will help res­i­dents of Bel­grade bet­ter un­der­stand the charming city of Bei­jing and the life of peo­ple there.”

Act­ing Mayor of Bei­jing Chen Jin­ing said the two be­came sister cities in 1980, and Bel­grade is the first sister city of Bei­jing in Europe.

Chen said he hopes Bei­jing Day will bring joy to lo­cal peo­ple, and help more of them to bet­ter un­der­stand the Chi­nese cap­i­tal’s cul­ture and peo­ple.

The two may­ors, joined by lo­cal res­i­dents, vis­ited a pic­ture and in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage ex­hi­bi­tion called Charming Bei­jing, a ma­jor part of the pro­mo­tional event.

Time-hon­ored brands from Bei­jing dis­played their sig­na­ture prod­ucts and caught the at­ten­tion of vis­i­tors.

They in­cluded cen­tury-old shoes man­u­fac­turer Neil­ian­sheng, silk and cloth store Rui­fux­i­ang, tea trader Wuyu­tai, bean curd pro­ducer Wangzhihe, Bai­hua honey, and Ton­grentang, a renowned phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals provider fo­cus­ing on tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine, which was founded in 1669.

Pek­ing Opera masks, porce­lain and tra­di­tional hand­i­crafts in­clud­ing red Chi­nese knots, which are a tra­di­tional dec­o­ra­tion rep­re­sent­ing bless­ings and wishes, were also pop­u­lar with lo­cal res­i­dents.

Vis­i­tors were in­vited to join in Pek­ing Opera mask paint­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence tra­di­tional Bei­jing cul­ture.

On Bei­jing Day, the cities signed seven co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments in var­i­ous fields, such as pub­li­ca­tion, sym­phony orches­tra per­for­mances and li­brary ex­changes.

Other events in­cluded an in­dus­trial fair, a youth ice hockey com­pe­ti­tion, a Chi­nese film fes­ti­val and a con­cert staged by the Bei­jing Sym­phony Orches­tra.

Zhao Guangchao, an of­fi­cial at the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion of Tourism De­vel­op­ment, briefed the au­di­ence about Bei­jing’s tourism re­sources in health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, con­fer­ences and ex­hi­bi­tions, and sports events dur­ing the in­dus­trial fair.

Later, Zhao told lo­cal me­dia that he hopes the pro­mo­tional event will en­able Ser­bian peo­ple to have a deeper un­der­stand­ing of and fall in love with Bei­jing, and help to tap into the po­ten­tial of the coun­try’s out­bound tourism mar­ket.

The Charming Bei­jing event also vis­ited Copen­hagen, Den­mark in Au­gust, in­tro­duc­ing the Chi­nese cap­i­tal’s wealth of tourism re­sources to lo­cal res­i­dents.

In mid-June, Bei­jing Week took place dur­ing the World Expo in As­tana, Kaza­khstan, of­fer­ing a cul­tural feast.

Data from the Bei­jing com­mis­sion show that the city re­ceived more than 1 mil­lion vis­its from Europe in 2016. The num­ber stood at 479,000 in the first half of this year.

The in­ten­sive pro­mo­tion pro­gram is part of the wider ef­forts to pre­pare for China-EU Tourism Year in 2018, which was des­ig­nated at the China-EU Busi­ness Sum­mit in July 2016.

The move will pro­vide de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, ac­cord­ing to Lowri Evans, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Direc­torate-Gen­eral for In­ter­nal Mar­ket, In­dus­try, En­trepreneur­ship and SMEs at the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

She made the com­ments at a news con­fer­ence in 2016, adding that one­fifth of over­seas vis­i­tors to China were from Euro­pean Union coun­tries in 2015 and that a grow­ing num­ber of Chi­nese tourists opt for Europe as their des­ti­na­tion.

The Euro­pean Travel Com­mis­sion ex­pects more Chi­nese tourists to travel around Europe and wishes to see an in­creas­ing num­ber of Euro­pean vis­i­tors ex­pe­ri­ence China’s unique charm, China Na­tional Ra­dio cited her as say­ing.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A pic­ture ex­hi­bi­tion held in Pod­gor­ica, Mon­tene­gro, on Sept 15 show­cases Bei­jing’s his­tory, moder­nity and cul­ture.

In­spired by the pic­tures on dis­play, vis­i­tors to the ex­hi­bi­tion in Mon­tene­gro talk about Bei­jing’s at­trac­tions.

Act­ing Bei­jing mayor Chen Jin­ing and his Bel­grade coun­ter­part, Sin­isa Mali, pose for a photo with the chil­dren who painted on the Pek­ing Opera masks dur­ing Bei­jing Day.

Lo­cal res­i­dents show in­ter­est in tra­di­tional hand­i­crafts dis­played dur­ing Bei­jing Day, a pro­mo­tional event held in Bel­grade, Ser­bia, on Sept 16.

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