Focus on Expo 2010 Shanghai: local tourism rise

created: 2010-04-27

With Expo just around the corner, domestic tourism entities are expecting to cash in on potential commercial opportunities on the back of an improving sector.

The 2010 China Domestic Tourism Fair in Chongqing wrapped up Sunday with organizers claiming the three-day event a success.

The fair saw over 1,500 organizations tout their wares, regions and tours in light of a good financial start to the year.

"During the first quarter of 2010, inbound tourists staying overnight in China reached 12.86 million people," stated Shao Qiwei, chairman of China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), adding that the figure was up 8.2 percent on last quarter. "The gross income of domestic tourism has increased 20 percent, which symbolizes the full development of Chinese tourism after the crisis."

Expo opportunities

Many exhibitors focused their stalls on Expo, all hoping for a piece of the potential tourism pie.

According to Liu Kezhi, director of CNTA's Department of Tourism Promotion and International Liaison, 25 million tickets have been sold for Expo site visits with Shanghai preparing to welcome 66.5 million domestic visitors alone.

As Shanghai's neighbor, Jiangsu Province is hoping to draw travelers by promoting its countryside. Vice director of Jiangsu Provincial Tourism Administration, Yuan Ding, said that the gardens of Suzhou, tranquil riverside towns, the lake city of Wuxi and the ancient city of Nanjing are all expecting an increase in visitors. He added that several tourism sites have been improved and a range of languages services developed.

Yunnan Province was represented with 50 booths at the event, presenting travel routes connected to Expo. Emphasizing the province's large diversity of ethnic groups and holiday options, Yunnan is also hoping to lure tourists away from the city after their Expo visit.

"To indulge in the festivals of ethnic groups and spend a few days for slow travel here, you will feel the ethnic people's love towards life and nature," said Luo Lu from Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration.

In an effort to provide a one-stop-post-Expo-travel spot, International Travel Service has founded Expo Alliance, a cooperation between 58 enterprises promoting more than 50 routes to 11 destinations in and around Shanghai. Tong Wei, general manager of China International Travel Service explained that the cooperative is offering a guaranteed standard of travel products and services, a first for China.

New ideas

A major focus of the Chongqing tourism fair was innovation. Both new transport options and gimmicky promotions were all aimed at getting more out China's expanding domestic tourism dollar.

Chongqing Traffic & Tourism Investment Group (CQTTIG) announced plans to invest around 2 billion yuan ($290 million) to build 10 cruise ships and launch luxury trips on the Yangtze River to explore the Three Gorges, with the first ship scheduled for a May 2011 delivery. General manager of CQTTIG, Xiong Yinglin, said that the ships will be similar to ocean cruise liners, complete with helicopters and golf courses on deck.

Tibet Tourist Corporation is hoping to attract tourists by means of a wedding promotion. The corporation will choose 99 couples to take part in the promotion that involves holding a wedding and eight-day honeymoon in Tibet, experiencing Tibetan culture.

"Tibet has always been my dream destination and with the combination of a wedding and tourism, this activity promotion is perfect for me," said 25-year-old Sun Xin. She and her husband signed up as the first couple to take part.

Dali in Yunnan presented a real estate program at the fair in an attempt to promote property investment and tourism together, while Hainan was upselling property and golf courses with the aim of developing an international tourism island.

"With people having better lives, previous sightseeing options cannot satisfy the market," commented Luo Lu from Yunnan Province. Luo added that travel products now need to focusing on leisure and participation to cater to market demands.

The First China Yangtze River Three Gorges International Tourism Festival was also held as part of the fair to promote Three Gorges tourism. The festival saw Chongqing municipality and Hubei Province join forces in promoting the area together for the first time.

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