（Written by Huang Lixia / Translated by Chen Zhiying）In recent years, as the tourism industry in China and ASEAN has developed rapidly, China and ASEAN countries have become important tourist sources for each other. As a famous historical and cultural city, as well as an ecological landscape city in Guangxi, Guilin boasts many valuable tourism resources. Having been chosen as the permanent venue for China-ASEAN Expo Tourism Exhibition (CAEXPOTE), Guilin pushed forward bilateral exchanges with ASEAN countries, carried out extensive and practical cooperation in tourism promotion, cultural exchanges, scientific and technological innovation and other fields, expanded new space for the connectivity, exchanges and cooperation, and investment promotion and capital introduction for the tourism industry of China and ASEAN and even the world.
So far, China-ASEAN Expo Tourism Exhibition as a crucial and professional exhibition has been successfully held for six sessions. What new harvest did we get from the 2020 CAEXPOTE?
Facing ASEAN, CAEXPOTE shines brilliantly
The year 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations and the two sides conducted friendly and pragmatic cooperation in 11 key areas, including agriculture, information industry, transportation, energy, culture and tourism, with a cumulative two-way investment of over US$ 160 billion. Takes this as an opportunity, CAEXPOTE has built itself into an authoritative platform for tourism exhibition, exchange and trade, which is oriented towards China and ASEAN and even the whole world.
Zhao Leqin, Secretary of the CPC Guilin Committee, said CAEXPOTE, which has been permanently located in Guilin since 2015, is a major opportunity for the transformation, upgrading and accelerated development of Guilin’s tourism.
Since Guilin officially implemented the 72-hour transit visa exemption policy for 51 countries in 2014 and the six-day entry visa exemption policy for tour groups from 10 ASEAN countries, tourists have been coming to Guilin in an endless stream every year. In 2019, Guilin received 138 million tourists, up 26.74% year-on-year. The number of inbound tourists reached 3.1459 million, an increase of 14.52% year-on-year, and tourism’s influence and reputation have been on the rise.
Zhao indicated that over the past five years, Guilin has exerted efforts to become a cooperation platform for international tourist attraction by strengthening tourism cooperation, promoting efficient business exchanges, and enhancing people-to-people exchanges. The CAEXPOTE was held innovatively with fruitful results and increasingly expanded influence. CAEXPOTE and more than 15,000 sessions of trade negotiations have attracted thousands of enterprises and professional buyers, and contributed to much tourism and economic and trade cooperation.
In 2016, the CAEXPOTE was listed by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia as one of the top five tourism exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific region that year, and listed by the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia as one of the top six tourism exhibitions in China. In 2018, the CAEXPOTE highlighted economic cooperation by building a platform for tourism, economy, trade and cultural exchanges, setting up the Pavilion for Guangxi’s six international sister cities, including Cebu of the Philippines, Surat Thani of Thailand, and promoting folk culture, tourism resources and trade negotiation. Besides, the governor of Siem Reap of Cambodia led a delegation to attend the CAEXPOTE.
“In the new development stage, Guilin will implement new development concept and build a new development pattern to promote the upgrading and development of tourism to build Guilin into a world-class international tourist attraction, and to play a more active role in the process of jointly building the Belt and Road and a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future,” said Zhao.
Revitalizing CAEXPOTE with digital tourism
The 6th CAEXPOTE has been performed as scheduled, surprising its visitors with booths decorated with local natural and cultural landscapes, cultural and creative products, and technical tools such as 5G, VR, AI and big data.
Themed with “Jointly Build the Belt and Road and Share Digital Tourism”, the CAEXPOTE was held against the background of China-ASEAN Digital Economy Cooperation Year of 2020 and aimed to accelerate China-ASEAN digital tourism cooperation. Covering 25,000 square meters, the exhibition involved a total of 300 booths in 6 blocks, consisting of the Belt and Road pavilion, overseas tourism specialized pavilion, international tourism commodity pavilion, tourism consumption pavilion, Guangxi tourism pavilion, domestic tourism specialized pavilion. It was the first time that “physical+on-line tourism exhibition” was adopted. In total, institutions of 49 countries and regions in China and representatives of 20 provinces (including autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) in China and of 14 cities in Guangxi attended the exhibition. All 10 ASEAN countries participated in specialized pavilions. The CAEXPOTE also attracted about 700 corporations, 300 specially invited buyers, 500 registered buyers and 2,000 professional visitors.
With “digital tourism” as one of the keywords of this exhibition, all booths employed sci-technical tools to show the integration of new technologies and conventional tourism. The “VR Tour around Guilin” in Guilin pavilion attracted many visitors. “Thanks to the view of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), we can feel like being in the landscape while standing here,” said its manager.
In addition to domestic booths, products were also displayed by exhibitors and sellers from countries along the Belt and Road. “This wood carving is made of 100% ebony, which is smaller, different from blackwood, and grows in dry places, usually Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It is a valuable wood from Africa,” introduced by an African young man. Posters at the Poland booth attracted many visitors, and some of the corporations even began to discuss cooperation.
This year, CAEXPOTE emphasized tapping the potential of tourism market by integrating culture and tourism. A fair held on the first day attracted representatives from almost 320 corporations, achieving over 3,000 “1 on 1” business talks. A series of cultural tourism promotion conferences were held by the Philippine and Yunnan Province. Beyond that, promotion conferences were also held by overseas countries and regions including Australia, Poland, Croatia, Mauritius, Fiji and island countries around South Atlantic Ocean, as well as Ningxia, Guizhou and Ningbo in China. Guilin City also performed the Tourism Project Investment Fair. Through promotion of local culture, tourism resources and key projects, cooperation and exchanges between government and tourism enterprises will be deeper.
Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai Tourism Attaché Ireneo Reyes suggested that this promotion conference provided a chance for the Philippines to enhance exchanges with its international counterparts by sharing local tourism resources, promoted exchanges between China and other relevant countries and contributed to the Philippines-China cooperation in tourism.
In the meantime, the 14th UNWTO/PATA Forum on Tourism Trends and Outlook, the China-ASEAN Forum on Digital Cultural Tourism Collaboration and the 10th Guilin International Scenery Culture & Tourism Festival were also held, performing many activities with local features.
CAEXPOTE’s “Experience of Guilin” has been more and more enriched by such practices, making Guilin’s reputation more well-known. To enhance China-ASEAN tourism cooperation and fulfill expectations from other fields, Guilin will keep doing its best on this platform.
Source: China-ASEAN Panorama