China-Arab States Tour Operators Conference 2017 was recently held in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, to discuss tourism development along the Belt and Road (B&R).
Experts called for establishing a "city alliance" for shaping countries and regions along the B&R into tourist destinations, building world-class tourism products and improving tourism convenience, by making use of the rich cultural heritage and natural resources along the B&R.
Statistics showed that the world cultural heritage, natural reserves and natural heritage along the B&R roughly have account for 74 percent, 53 percent and 34 percent of the world's total figures respectively.
"The countries and regions along the B&R are rich in cultural and natural resources. They are supposed to become major world tourist destinations," said Zhang Hui, Vice Chairman of the Expert Committee of the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) and dean of the Department of Tourism of Beijing Jiaotong University.
In the meanwhile, Wang Qiyan, director of the Leisure Economy Research Center of Renmin University of China, said that population flow and people-to-people exchanges can drive demand, services and investment, which will make the international and regional cooperation become more frequent.
However, some experts held that the scale of tourism market along the B&R has been "far from expectations." Referring to this, Zhang suggested establishing a B&R city cooperation alliance under the frameworks of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) to bring government, enterprises and tour operators join hands to promote tourism development.
According to some industry insiders, only a small number of tourist destinations along the B&R can be included into the mainstream tourism products in the world as there lacks influential tour operators who are good at planning, package design and promotion. They suggested joining hands with major tour operators along the B&R to integrate tourism resources, facilities and services, thereby building world-class tourism products.
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