Tourism plans up in the air, summit hears

Updated: 2013-09-14 08:10

By Zhao Lei (China Daily)

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Aviation regarded as the key to attracting visitors

The civil aviation sector plays an indispensable role in boosting tourism, experts said at an industry conference on Friday.

"In Chinese, the word 'tourism' is composed of two characters - one means traveling and the other means sightseeing. This represents the importance of the transportation vehicle - you will not be able to travel far without the assistance of vehicles," said Li Mingde, deputy head of the tourism research center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In the past, the absence of a strong civil aviation industry contributed to the slow development of an outbound tourism market and discouraged foreigners from making trips to China, the professor said at the Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit for the World Tourism Cities Federation, which opened on Thursday in Beijing.

"After a decade of rapid growth, the civil aviation industry has become one of the most important partners of the tourism sector and, on the other hand, tourism departments also have fueled the progress and upgrade of airlines."

He suggested airlines could further deepen their cooperation with tourism agencies and help satisfy tourists, or their passengers, by providing quality services and on-time flights.

Tourism plans up in the air, summit hears

In the civil aviation field, the airport is the first place that should be invested in if the government wants to attract more tourists, according to the professor.

"The airport is the very first thing that hits the eyes of travelers when they arrive in a foreign nation. It leaves the first impression of the country in their minds," he said. "Good infrastructure and services at the airport will give them a happy start to their journey."

His words were echoed by Cao Yunchun, an economics professor at the Civil Aviation University of China, who said all the top tourist destinations such as London and Tokyo boast of their sophisticated air services.

"Ten years ago, city governments in China were reluctant to take over airports from civil aviation authorities because they regarded them as a financial burden. Now most local governments are very enthusiastic about building new airports," he said. "It is because they have realized that airports as well as civil aviation are of great significance in developing the economy and improving their capability for receiving tourists."

He cited Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as an excellent example of how the development of the civil aviation sector can lift transportation and tourism industries.

"Investment in civil aviation will definitely inject huge momentum in the tourism field."

Professor Lindsay Turner, head of the School of Applied Economics at Victoria University in Australia, said a far-flung airline network will facilitate travelers to reach second- and third-tier cities, which were traditionally impossible to visit by tourists because of inconvenient transportation, thereby subsequently increasing interest in local culture and scenic spots and promoting tourism.

At least 60 percent of foreign tourists making trips to China come here by air, according to Zhong Shan, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China's statistics and analysis center.

She said the civil aviation industry brought more than 180 billion yuan ($29.4 billion) in benefits to the Chinese tourism sector in 2010, the most recent year that has such data.

Tourism plans up in the air, summit hears

 Tourism plans up in the air, summit hears

The Beijing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit of World Tourism Cities 2013 closed on Friday at the Badaling section of the Great Wall with performances of traditional Chinese art shows. Lu Yong, secretary-general of the tourism-marketing group, said he was confident that the World Tourism Cities Federation will become the largest international organization for the promotion of world tourism development with the highest standards. Photo by Fu Zhenyan / Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 09/14/2013 page8)