China-Africa Tourism Cooperation and the Building of a World Tourism Community

2022-11-18 09:50:39       Size:[L  M  S]

In order to further strengthen China-Africa tourism exchanges and cooperation and build a China-Africa community with a shared future, the Seminar on Tourism Cooperation between China and African Countries, hosted by the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges of the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism and organized by China Tourism Academy, opened virtually on November 16. President Dai Bin attended the conference and delivered a keynote speech titled China-Africa Tourism Cooperation and the Building of a World Tourism Community. The following is the transcript (as prepared) of the speech:

China-Africa Tourism Cooperation and the Building of a World Tourism Community

(November 16, 2022, Beijing)

Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy

Ladies and Gentlemen.

At last year’s Seminar on Tourism Cooperation between China and English-speaking African Countries, I gave a speech titled Wait for me, Africa. The key message I wanted to convey in that speech is that as an international tourism destination with huge growth potential, Africa needs to optimize its promotion strategy and improve its hospitality system for the Chinese market. Further research shows that China-Africa tourism cooperation is much more than “Chinese tourists + African destination”. Africa is not only a continent of the Serengeti and Masai Mara, the East African Rift, the Sahara Desert, the Nile River and other magnificent landscapes; it is also a land that witnessed the dawn of human civilization. If we have the opportunity to walk into the National Museum of Ethiopia, and stand in front of the 3.2 million year-old “Lucy” and ancient human fossils from over 2 million, 1 million, 400,000 and 200,000 years back, we will definitely have a deeper understanding of President Xi Jinping’s vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. Africa is not only the region with the biggest mining potential, but also the region with rapid growth in bilateral trade and investment with China. Many of its members are Belt and Road countries or members of BRICS cooperation. Africa accounts for 2/3 of the world’s mineral reserves, and has over half of the world’s precious and rare metals such as gold, diamonds, platinum, palladium, cobalt and molybdenum. Commercial development institutions such as Zijin Mining, CMOC, Shandong Weiqiao and Huayou Cobalt, sovereign investment funds on photovoltaic power generation, high-speed transportation, port terminals and other infrastructure projects, as well as aid projects in public culture, health care and mass sports are all playing a part to boost the speed of Africa’s economic and social development. The growing trade and investment ties, people-to-people exchanges and international cooperation provide a broad market space for China-Africa tourism exchanges and industrial cooperation.

An Africa with magnificent natural scenery and splendid history and culture, and an Africa with rich natural resources and visible economic growth, will provide more destination choices for Chinese outbound travelers. A rejuvenated China that enjoys moderate prosperity and delivers a life of happiness for its people, and a modern China with booming industry and commerce and advanced science and education, will also attract more Africans to visit. According to statistics, countries and regions along the “Belt and Road”, Africa included, have become the fastest growing source of tourists for China’s inbound tourism market. Transsion, ZTE and Huawei cell phones, Phoenix bicycles, Rooster hoes, Tri-circle locks, Maxam skin care products, LMZ toothpaste and other Chinese brands are popular among African tourists. The Yiwu Commodity Market in Zhejiang, Silk Street in Beijing and Huaqiangbei in Shenzhen are all popular tourist shopping destinations. More and more Africans are coming to China for business, education, culture and sight-seeing purposes. While experiencing a beautiful China and seeing for themselves a modern country, they have boosted China-Africa economic and trade ties with their travels and pushed forward China-Africa cooperation in all dimensions and at all levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The modern tourism industry started in the 1840s. After nearly two centuries of development, a “three-power, multi-polar” structure has taken shape in the contemporary world tourism economy. The “Three Powers” are North America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific, and the “Multiple Poles” include Latin America, West Asia, North Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and the South Pacific Islands. In general, except for Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Reunion, 60 African countries and regions have not yet joined the modern tourism process. Eastern African countries such as Ethiopia and Burundi, Western African countries such as Liberia and Guinea, Central African countries such as Cameroon and Congo, Southern African countries such as Botswana and Namibia, and island countries and regions such as Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, Azores, Canary, Madeira, despite their rich marine resources and splendid cultural heritage, have not yet become preferred overseas destinations, including for Chinese tourists. Their investment in tourism infrastructure and commercial hospitality systems, as well as their discourse and influence in the international tourism system are even weaker. This is not a normal situation that could be left unattended. Without the participation of the African people, who make up one-fifth of the global population, the global tourism industry would not enjoy full prosperity, and the building of a well-functioning world tourism community would also be unthinkable.

President Xi Jinping noted that building a community with a shared future for mankind bears on the interests of peoples all across the world. We need to better leverage the role of WTO, APEC and other multilateral mechanisms, raise the influence of BRICS, SCO and other cooperation mechanisms, and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries in global affairs. In 2019, China became the most important tourist source in the world with 155 million outbound tourists. Over the past three years, due to the impact of COVID, the sustained growth of the outbound tourism market came to a halt. However, as we can see from the recently announced adjustments in aviation, immigration and consular policies, outbound tourism is edging toward the window of orderly recovery. As we say in China, a learned man should read ten thousand books and travel ten thousand miles. This has been a fine tradition and way of life for the Chinese people since ancient times, and outbound travel is particularly aspired by the people. A China that has achieved moderate prosperity, and a China that is promoting national rejuvenation through a Chinese path to modernization, will not pursue trade surplus in tourism services with any country or region at any time. It will only encourage more of its nationals to walk freely on this blue planet. In the next five years, the steady recovery of outbound tourism in China will provide new opportunities for the world tourism industry, including Africa. With a true sense of multilateralism, China will contribute its share to building a new world tourism landscape and deliver greater benefits to the whole global population, including the 2 billion African people.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Openness is the defining feature of contemporary China, and it is our common responsibility to promote policies for greater facilitation in travels and improve the quality of tourism hospitality. We will provide more visa facilitation and route options for tourists through policy innovations in tourism, culture, consular, immigration, aviation, maritime and port sectors; we will provide high-quality tourism and travel services for international travelers by advancing pragmatic cooperation between travel agencies, online travel agents, travel retailers, hotels, B&Bs, scenic resorts and other commercial organizations; and we will leverage the role of China Development Bank, sovereign investment fund, commercial banks, industrial funds and other financial institutions to help Africa improve its tourism infrastructure and hospitality system, so as to gradually put the market, rather than the government, in the driver’s seat of China-Africa tourism cooperation.

China Tourism Academy is ready to further strengthen cooperation with tourism policy research, marketing, education, training, and hospitality service agencies of African countries, and help African countries increase their visibility and influence in China’s outbound tourism market through data exchange, special research, conferences, forums, special training courses, and the “Welcome China” overseas certification program. We will also help African tourism institutions, including travel service providers, hotels, retail businesses, catering service providers, cultural centers and museums, scenic spots and resorts, to develop more targeted products, and continuously improve the quality of their services and boost tourist satisfaction.

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