Rediscovering the Beauty of Travel: FromTheatres to Vegetable Markets
- Speech atGlobal Tourism Economic Forum
(October 14, 2019, Macao)
By Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy
Ladies and gentlemen,
During the golden-week holiday for the National Day, the Chinese hinterland saw 782 million domestic touristtrips and a total domestic tourism revenue of 649.71billion yuan, up 7.81% and 8.47% respectively from last year’sholiday. According to the voiceover of the CCTV’s Xinwen Lianbo, museums, art galleries, libraries and theaters have constituted new spaces for a wonderful life shared by both localsand tourists. It is the first time that theater was mentioned in the tourismnews of the authoritative CCTV at peaktime. In fact, the Beijing opera of Chang’an Grand Theater, the ballet of the National Centre for the Performing Arts and the puppetshow of China National Theatre for Children are attracting more and more tourists from other places and foreign countries. I have also noticed that, inorder to meet the development needs of urban tourism, Hangzhou has publicized 100 social resource access spots for the inboundtourists. Among them, Gudang Vegetable Market remains the second largestpopular item. Some vegetable markets and bazaars, including Tukijisij you in Japan, Boqueria Market in Spain, Chinatown in Singapore and Sanyuanli in Beijing have become attractions for international tourists. The landmark attractions are image support of urban tourism, while markets and bazaars show the quality of life in a city. When tourists enter the daily life spaces from theaters to vegetable markets to deeply experience andshare the good life of the destination, I seem to have heard the collapse of the “invisible wall” standing between locals and tourists. The closed tourist world of travel agencies, hotels and scenic spots has been gradually broken, and an open system involving the living spaces of the destination has taken shape, ushering in the era of wonderful life shared by both locals and tourists.
This era is the inevitable result of the economic and social development to a certain stage as well as the accumulation of cultural under takings and the cultivation of cultural sectors. In the past seven decades since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the museum industry has undergone historic changes. The number of museums increased from 349 in 1978 to 5,170 in 2018. There are more than 20,000 exhibitions and 200,000 educational events held every year, with over one billion visitors. According to the data of dianping.com, the number of tourists searching fordomestic attractions, routes and products via museum increased by 50% in 2018. The Palace Museum, National Museum of China, and museums in Shaanxi, Nanjing, Anhui and Shandong have become classic items of the cultural, research and educational tourist routes. Small museums, such as those of the Great Wall, ancient coins, railways, and post and telecommunications, have gradually become the must-go destinations for tourists.
The bazaars and vegetablemarkets in China, especially fresh food, vegetable and fruit markets in big cities, have gradually changed the traditional image of “having two legs smeared withmud after entering it and smelling fishy all over the body after coming out ofit,” becoming the basic support for the upgrading of the quality of citizens’life and the selected items for deep experience of tourists. According to aspecial survey conducted by China Tourism Academy, the Pike Place Market, a shooting spot of “Anchoring in Seattle”, attracts more than one million tourists every year. The Markthal Rotterdam in the Netherlands isvisited by over eight million people every year. Japan’s Tukijisijyou attracts nearly 42,000 tourists every day, making it a must-go destination for overseas visitors to Japan. The fresh, wet and lively vegetable market that reflects the local daily life effectively meets the demand of tourists with increasingly rich travel experiences to experience local daily life, cuisine, simple social contact and distinctive beautiful life. In terms of science fiction language, the vegetable market is a “wormhole” that connects travel and life, enabling tourists to instantly travel from the scenic spot to the daily life of locals. Here, local residents are provided with fresh ingredients and delicious food, and visitors can learn about the local life and simple social communication. I have noticed that there are more and more tourists visiting the red market in Macao. It not only provides locals with vegetables, but also enables tourists to appreciate and taste Macao.
No matter how we emphasize the uniqueness of natural, historical and cultural heritage, we have to admit that there is no such a resource that is irreplaceable. Only by embedding the lifestyle of the contemporary people, cities, villages and communities can become unique. With the economic and social development and accumulation of travel experience, people’s travel appeals are shifting from the beautiful scenery of scenic spots to the wonderful life of communities. Based on the monitoring of tourist satisfaction for more than 40 consecutive quarters and with the help of big data analysis technology, we have proposed “the life beyond landscape,” “the communication between people as the best travel,”“prosperity not only for recollection”and other contemporary tourism development concepts. These concepts are also being demonstrated by the “small product” project launched by Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau: they appear to be small urban leisure products but actually form a new trend of the international tourism market andindustry development. The LN Hotel Five, LN Residence and Nansha Grand Hotel, which were built by Lingnan Group in Guangzhou, have made the historical andcultural places and spaces new landmarks of urban life. In fact, theworld-class destinations must also have world-class cultural landmarks and high-quality living environments, including vegetable markets.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is hoped that the marketing agencies of tourism destinations pay more attention to urban livingand leisure spaces from theatres to vegetable markets, rather than repeating the empty shots of landscapes and the old glory that has passed away.Tourismis bound to function in driving economic growth, creating more jobs, reducing poverty and carrying out national education, but the realization of these functions is based on the premise of tourists’ visit. Why do tourists come to acertain city or village? Because they can enjoy quality life and youth. To thisend, any attraction must, first and foremost, be close to people, instead of keeping them at a distance. Nowadays, the post-80s, post-90s,and even post-00s have entered the markets, becoming the guides of tourism consumption. They need the destinations’ images, services and productsto have emotional projections and psychological connections with them. Otherwise, tourism image building and promotion won’t strike a chord with tourists. Patriotism and daily life are effective factors to establish emotional projections and psychological connections between destination and tourists. For the new generation, the latter is more important. From “A Bite of China” to “Chinese Restaurant” and to “Meet the Temple of Heaven,” this trend is already obvious. On the basis of the fact that China has built a well-off society in an all-round way and the tourism industry has embarked on the road of high-quality development, it is necessary to profoundly understand and graspthe evolution of tourism demands. If we recognize and practice the principle that “people’s longing for a better life is our goal,” we must do more to study tourism demands and the distant market instead of the so-called tourism resources.
It is hoped that tourism destinations will attach more importance to theintegration and promotion of the resources in stock, rather than makingincremental investments. For many people, tourismdevelopment is to develop scenic spots, that is, to build theme parks, andinvest in hotels, resorts and shopping centers. As for Macao, a city with adeveloped economy and limited land space, it is necessary to develophigh-quality all-for-one tourism with the concept of wonderful life shared by bothlocals and tourists, so that visitors from all over the worldcan feel the ubiquitous quality. Both big and small cities have their ownunique beauty. The problem is that, due to the stress on magnificent beauty,the planning is comprehensive, and investment is made in large projects. Is itpractical? Anyway, no private investment is made. As a result, tourism andcultural development becomes superficial. After 20 years of capital input andthe rapid Internet development, it is time to emphasize quality, efficiency,and the sense of gain of tourists and communities. It is also time to emphasizedaily life and small beauty. It is not advisable to mention only Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World as well as Louvre Museum and Guggenheim Museumwhen speaking of theme parks, museums and art galleries. It is necessary to payattention to the parent-child parks, animation museums and folk art galleriesthat meet citizens’ demand for leisure and can be shared by tourists with thelocals. In fact, the emerging forces represented by Luobaobei Parent-child Park and M Woods have become new leisure spaces andmust-go destinations for young people.
It is hoped that city managers will place tourists and citizens in an equally important position so as to enable tourists to freely and conveniently share the quality life and public services of local citizens. A good city can with stand the usual visits of tourists, so that tourists can get the same high quality public service and business environment as local citizens. The development of night tourism requires light shows and night markets. It also requires museums, artgalleries, libraries and public cultural centers to extend business hours. What’s more important, it also requires the government to increase investment in public services. Because of the high frequency consumption and similar lifestyles of local residents, the public services provided to the public will be more efficient. When providing tourists with multi-language environment, Internet access, security, and public area management, they face the test of high cost and low efficiency. When there are too many tourists or “excessive tourism” occurs, there will be the consequences of rising prices, traffic congestion and higher crime rate that affect the sustainable development of tourism. In the past seven days of National Day holiday, the Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau sent a public text message, which became popular in the social network. It reads: “During the National Day holiday, the tourist attractions such as Jiefangbei, Hongya Cave,Chaotianmen, Grand Theatre and Changjiahui are quite crowded, so citizens in this city are recommended to avoid the peak hours when going out so as to provide convenience for visitors.” While praising the honest and frank Chongqing people, I am also thinking about the concept and system behind thistext message and the possibility of copying and promoting it in other cities.
It is also hoped to strengthen more extensive international cooperation, and jointly build and share the tourism achievements of high-quality development based on concept consensus and policy coordination. Over the years, the tourism sectors have been willing to and adept at discussing tourism issues in a bilateral and multilateral framework, and achievedre markable achievements in awakening tourism rights, removing barriers to tourism, building tourism facilities, and coordinating tourism policies. In addition to actively participating in various events of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and other international tourism organizations, the tourism sectors also strive to promote the Central Government to initiate tourism topics in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Conferenceon Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other multilateral cooperation mechanisms. The tourism organizations launched by China, such as the World Tourism Alliance (WTA) and World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), have also carried out a lot of fruitfu lwork. When tourists begin to enter the daily life spaces of local residents represented by theaters and vegetable markets, the boundaries between touristsand local citizens become blurred, and hospitals, customs, immigration and education institutions also feature increasingly salient tourism attributes.What to do? One method is to increase the responsibilities of international tourism organizations and the content of bilateral tourism cooperation, just as China's administrative efforts made in the early days of developing all-for-one tourism, including the establishment of tourism committees. The other method is to conduct cross-border dialogues and industry integration,just like China’s innovations in the integrated development of culture andtourism over the past two years. After all, for those areas characterized by strong “asset specificity,” there is no way for tourism administrations and commercial organizations to enter and trans form them into tourism agencies. What needs to be done now is to attract representatives of international organizations, government officials and entrepreneurs in the fields of immigration, customs, culture, education, science and technology, commerce and agriculture, etc. onthe platforms such as the Global Tourism Economic Forum. It is advisable to seek consensus through dialogues and make institutions and individuals with administrative power, professional information and social influence better serve international tourists. China Tourism Academy is working in depth with the Department of Health of the General Administration of Customs, the Insurance Association of China, the United Nations Development Programme, and Ctrip Group to provide more security for tourists.
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the invitation of Secretary General Pansy Ho Chiu-king, I’m lucky to attend all previous annual conferences of the Global Tourism Economic Forum since its establishment. I have exchanged extensive views on the Chinese and world tourism with Brazilian tourism minister, Argentine tourism director general and other industry colleagues at home and abroad. At this forum, I have also delivered keynote speeches on the construction of the World Tourism and Leisure Center, the tourism development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area,the quality life in Macao and the global promotion of the project “In the Moodfor Love” on behalf of tourism think tank institutions and academic circles.
To build Macao into aworld tourism and leisure center,we should of course attract visitors from all over the world, but it is not to focus on the number of foreign visitors and hinterland tourists. It is unnecessary to set a target of attracting a certain number of foreigner visitors or other compulsory standards for the world tourism and leisure center. The Central Government also has no requirements in this regard. The Chinese hinterland has already been the largest outbound tourist source market in the world. With the construction of Guangdong-HongKong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the opening of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge,the hinterland should and must become a major tourist source market for Macao. In fact, the key points of aworld tourism and leisure center don’t lie in the number of international tourists and traditional tourism resources, but involve the wonderful living spaces from theatres to vegetable markets and the world-class tourism facilities and leisure services. I sincerely hope that Macao will realize the strategic goal of becoming a world tourism and leisure center earlier under the guidance of the new development concept, and provide a sample that can be replicated and promoted for the high-quality development of the hinterland tourism industry and national leisure.