European and Chinese speakers told how tourism boosts the bilateral relationship. Industry insiders, officials and experts believe China and Europe could beef up efforts to explore the potential of the tourism sector, which could play a bigger role in boosting bilateral relationships.
They spoke at a seminar organized by the Belgian Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) and the European Parliament at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Brussels on Tuesday.
Istvan Ujhelyi, a member of the European Parliament and vice–chairman of the Transport and Tourism Committee, said tourism provides a platform to boost friendship between Europe and China, which brings mutual understanding and common communication to a new level. Apart from that, tourism also plays a huge role in solving social problems since it creates numerous jobs, he said.
“I am more than convinced that the European Commission should encourage investment in tourism; in infrastructure, in regional development and in easier market access”, Ujhelyi said.
Bernard Dewit, BCECC chairman, said he believed the saying that China is undergoing a crisis is no more than just a misperception since tourist numbers from China are still growing.
“In a decade, the number of Chinese tourists is expected to double and reach 242 million by 2024”, he said. According to Dewit, cooperation between Chinese and European tourism industries should be further developed. He said Chinese travelers are one of the foreign tourist groups that spend the most. Liege airport, for example, since April has received three direct flights from China every week and witnessed enormous growth in business.
Minister-Counselor Qian Bo of the Chinese Mission to the EU stressed the huge potential of tourism cooperation between Europe and China. Last year, the tourism sector contributed 10 percent to economic growth and 8.4 percent to job creation in China, Qian said. He said both sides have agreed to support China-EU cooperation on sustainable tourism during the 17th EU-China summit held this June in Brussels.
Last year, Europe received 3.43 million Chinese tourists, an increase of 10.4 percent, and 300,000 students are studying in their countries. “A strong partnership and good political and economic relations can contribute greatly to tourism industries on both sides”, Qian said.
14-10-2015 (chinadaily.com.cn; by Fu Jing)