Opening in the spring rain and closing in the sunshine, the International Mayor’s Forum on Tourism—Zhengzhou, China 2021 (IMFT 2021) came to a successful conclusion at the Zhengzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center (ZZICEC) on April 23.
During the three-day event themed with “Market Prosperity and Technological Innovation, Enhance the Competitiveness of Urban Tourism”, more than 450 participants from international organizations across 30 countries and regions attended constructive panel discussions, sharing their insights into the construction of international tourist destinations and how to enhance inter-city communication and exchanges in the post-COVID-19 era, as well as the culture-driven tourism development.
In line with China’s national strategy of strengthening the ecological conservation and high-quality development of the Yellow River Basin, Henan rolled out a cultural tourism program designed to promote the tourism resources of Zhengzhou, Kaifeng and Luoyang located over 300 li (150 kilometers) from one another and the early history and culture of the Yellow River economic belt over the past 3,000 years (in the “3 Cities, 300 Li and 3,000 Years” program). Domestic and international guests alike were inspired by compelling stories about the legacy of the Yellow River region.
In addition, the event saw the release of the Blue Book on World Tourism Cities 2021, the International Urban Tourism Investment Report, and the Survey Report on Tourist Satisfaction with International Tourism Cities.
The event brought city leaders from across the world together in Zhengzhou, in five forum sessions during which three industry reports were published.
Henan extends a warm welcome to its domestic and international visitors.
On April 21, the highly anticipated IMFT 2021 kicked off as the first well-organized and internationally recognized cultural tourism event held in Henan province in the post-COVID-19 era. A wide range of performances were organized, including the striking Shaolin Kung Fu show and the popular dance drama Night Banquet in the Tang Dynasty Palace performed by graceful yet spirited female dancers. These were highly praised by tourism professionals from all over the world.
“Tourism is a ‘sunrise industry’ that helps to improve quality of life while playing a key role in optimizing the economic structure, stimulating domestic demand and consumption, and creating new jobs,” said Duan Qiang, chairman of the World Tourism Alliance, in his speech. He added that as China has attained significant results in preventing and controlling the pandemic, the tourism industry continues to gain strong momentum in revitalization, accelerating the establishment of the “Dual Circulation” strategy that focuses on driving domestic development backed by international cooperation.
In recent years, Henan has capitalized on the strategic opportunities brought about by the country’s favorable policies designed to promote the development of China’s central region as well as the ecological conservation and high-quality development of the Yellow River Basin, in a move to deepen the supply-side structural reform, optimize the business-friendly environment and accelerate the construction of infrastructure and supporting facilities in the tourism industry. Currently, Henan is accelerating the build-out of a platform that will allow international visitors to explore Chinese history and culture as it transforms into an internationally recognized tourist destination.
Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China, praised Zhengzhou as a dynamic and fast-growing city. He indicated that with a long-standing history, rich culture, and abundant natural resources, Henan has become a world-renowned destination that facilitates exchange of thoughts, ideas, and cultures. In the last few years, Sri Lanka has achieved positive outcomes as it continues to collaborate with Henan in the fields of culture, tourism, education, trade, and economy. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is rapidly recovering from the pandemic that hit the country last year. The two nations of Sri Lanka and China are expected to work together to boost rapid economic development backed by tourism revitalization.
Park Nam-choon, the mayor of Incheon, South Korea, and Valentina Corrado, a councilor of Lazio region, Italy, delivered speeches via video during the conference. Expressing similar opinions, they agreed that the global tourism industry is currently facing the challenges of COVID-19. As participants shared industry expertise and experience and explored collaboration opportunities and solutions for addressing challenges, the forum in Zhengzhou marked a starting point for the reopening of the global tourism industry.
In her speech, Trip.com Group’s CEO Jane Sun stated: “At the end of last year, Ding Zhen, a Chinese internet celebrity, increased the visibility of his hometown Litang in Sichuan province. In early 2021, Zhengzhou attracted widespread attention with the popular dance show ‘Night Banquet in the Tang Dynasty Palace’. We believe that the combination of new cultural tourism products and innovative marketing programs will play a key role in stimulating the demand for consumption in tourism. By leveraging our unique platform and marketing capabilities, Trip.com Group will facilitate the development of more tourist destinations. During the upcoming May Day, China’s tourism industry is expected to record a new high of 200 million visitors. With the COVID-19 vaccination well on track, the global tourism industry may reopen by the end of this year. At that time, Trip.com Group will continue to expand its presence in the international market by empowering more international destinations.”
At the end of the event, the forum published the Consensus on Zhengzhou International Mayor’s Forum on Tourism, which was compiled based on the International Urban Tourism Investment Report and Blue Book on World Tourism Cities 2021. It may inspire global tourism professionals.
Henan promotes the culture and tourism of the Yellow River region with the “3 Cities, 300 Li and 3,000 Years” program
In 2019, China included the ecological conservation and high-quality development of the Yellow River Basin on its list of national strategies. How should the provinces along the Yellow River take innovative approaches to implementing these?
During the forum session held on April 21, the host city Zhengzhou promoted a cultural tourism belt supported by the “3 Cities, 300 Li and 3,000 Years” program. Zhengzhou, a long-established city characterized by the mystery of the ancient China, Luoyang, a major Chinese city during the Sui and Tang dynasties, and Kaifeng, a prosperous city during the Song dynasty, reflect the essence of ancient Chinese civilization and Yellow River culture. Henan is working to create a world-class cultural tourism product, which will serve as a platform designed to enhance the visibility of Yellow River culture on the world stage.
The “3 Cities, 300 Li and 3,000 Years” program aims to help people worldwide gain a better understanding of these three cities and the early history of Chinese culture. In line with this mission, Henan developed a new strategy to boost the collaborative development of Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, and Luoyang, with a focus on enhancing ecology-based restoration along the Yellow River, implementing joint governance of upstream and downstream banks as well as those on the left and right, and optimizing the integration of natural Yellow River scenery with urban landscapes.
The collaborative development of the Yellow River cultural tourism belt relies on the joint efforts of city clusters along the river. During the session on April 22, participants from government agencies, business, and academic fields explored the belt’s development and shared their ideas and insights, with the aim of accelerating the growth of the urban tourism sector in cities along the belt.
“Cities along the Yellow River should leverage their advantages to enhance the synergy complemented by their joint efforts,” said Wang Rongguo, level-2 consultant at the Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism. He indicated that guided by the planning and construction of the Yellow River National Cultural Park, regions along the belt should work together to drive its development based on their specific requirements and capabilities.
Sun Yunlong, deputy director of the Department of Tourism at Fudan University, explained that the city clusters along the Yellow River should pool all of their available intellectual, financial and material resources to promote the collaborative development of the urban tourism sector along the river.
Wang Wei, vice president of Trip.com Group and CEO of the Business Development and Government Cooperation Department, believes that the Yellow River is an excellent IP and that the cities along the river have unique characteristics and different roles. These cities should take specific and different approaches to create tourism products while contributing to the development of the Yellow River belt by capitalizing on their unique advantages.
OTA leader Trip.com Group supports the pioneering virtual tourism fair in both Chinese and English
Businesses are accelerating their digital transformation in response to COVID-19. With this in mind, the forum provided the first online virtual travel fair, pioneering a new form of tourism fair in the post-COVID-19 era.
According to its organizers, the online fair, presented in both Chinese and English, included congratulatory videos from foreign guests, online access to the live-streamed forum, forum agendas, city and corporate exhibitions, and the latest information on the event. This fair acted as an online platform to present the forum.
Many exhibitors from leading domestic and international destinations also participated in this online fair. By clicking links to city exhibitions, audiences were provided with information on major local attractions, accommodation, food, shopping spots, and guides, as well as detailed travel tips for destinations including the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Italy, the Jules Verne House in France, Cape Haijiao in Hainan province, and Shaolin Temple in Henan province.
To date, 26 tourist cities, including Florence (Italy), Cairo (Egypt), Amiens (France), and Athens (Greece), as well as Chinese cities Hangzhou (Zhejiang province), Xi’an (Shaanxi province) and Zhengzhou (Henan province), have taken part in the online fair.
The organizers of this event explained that the online tourism fair was designed to create a platform for players in the international tourism industry to showcase their products, seek business partnerships and promote communication and exchanges. With the support of CNR.cn, Xinhuanet.com and Trip.com Group, the fair is expected to leverage advanced technologies to provide relevant resources and information for the public worldwide.
As a leading global OTA platform, Trip.com Group is committed to building on its leadership in China while expanding globally. To collaboratively promote quality-focused development in the tourism industry, Trip.com Group has been working with a diversified range of destination partners across the country.
As part of its efforts to support the forum, Trip.com Group plans to help promote Zhengzhou’s local tourism resources by integrating them with innovative marketing programs. In line with the “Tourism Marketing Hub” strategy, Trip.com Group will implement a range of effective and standards-based measures to empower the cultural tourism sectors of destinations.
City leaders reach a consensus on tourism development during the event and Zhengzhou continues to consolidate its leading position in the global tourism market
With the success of IMFT 2021, Zhengzhou has unlocked its huge potential to help boost global tourism development by exhibiting its compelling resources.
The inaugural IMFT was co-organized by the Henan Provincial Government and the China National Tourism Administration in 2008. Since then, the event has been held in Zhengzhou every two years. In 2016, the forum was renamed “International Mayor’s Forum on Tourism—Zhengzhou, China”.
In the previous six editions of the forum, hundreds of mayors from international destinations met under one roof in Zhengzhou to explore further development of the tourism industry. The event now serves as a key platform for enhancing exchange and collaboration between global players in the industry.
The 7th edition of IMFT was delayed for a year due to the worldwide impact of COVID-19. In 2021, the event was relaunched with the aims of facilitating exchange and collaboration in the global tourism industry and combining efforts to accelerate its revitalization. During the IMFT 2021 event, a series of supporting programs were organized to bring together industry professionals from all over the world, allowing them to share new and innovative ideas on how to boost tourism development and creating a cultural experience for global cultural tourism market.
According to its organizers, the forum was designed to connect the world’s leading tourist destinations to deepen their partnerships and facilitate interaction and communication as well as collaborative development.
Following in-depth discussions, participants reached a new consensus on the construction of tourist destinations and the development of urban tourism worldwide, which is described in the “Consensus on China (Zhengzhou) International Mayor’s Forum on Tourism 2021” (“Zhengzhou Consensus”) released during the forum.
The “Zhengzhou Consensus” reflects confidence in tourism recovery, in which mayors of tourism cities are calling for a community of tourist destinations. It is committed to creating a collaborative, win-win solution for enhancing exchange, understanding and collaboration between the cities and injecting new momentum and power into the sustainable development of global tourist destinations.
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