Chengdu tourism conference planning a better future for all

Ke Jiayun
Chengdu is bracing itself for the 22nd United Nations World Tourism Organization General Assembly, which is scheduled for September 11-16.
Ke Jiayun

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in the southwestern China and often referred to as the panda hometown, is bracing itself for the 22nd United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly, which is held during September 11-16.

The conference is biennially convened by UNWTO, the world’s most influential tourism organization, and has been held in 21 cities of 18 countries. The Chinese capital, Beijing, hosted the event in 2003.

Being noted as the “Land of Abundance” (Tianfu), Chengdu has been ranked as one of the best tourist cities in China for several years. Li Bai (AD 701-762), a renowned Chinese poet living in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), said: “The nine heavens created one Chengdu city, with thousands of houses brought into a scene. Its grass, trees, clouds and mountains are like brocade, and how could other cities compare to it.”

With a gorgeous view of its natural sceneries and historical structures, data compiled by the provincial tourism authorities revealed that Chengdu received 93.83 million travelers in the first half of this year, up 5.2 percent from a year earlier. The tourism revenue in Chengdu increased 19.91 percent year on year to 129.5 billion yuan (US$19.85 billion).

The most famous tourist spot in Chengdu should be the giant panda base. Panda is nicknamed, as Gun Gun in China, which literally means, “rolling and rolling.” In the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, tourists can see pandas at an open-air enclosure. Cute baby pandas can also be found at the nursery house.

Three years ago, it became the fourth Chinese city to allow a 72-hour free visa entry allowing tourists from 45 countries to visit Chengdu without a visa. Now there are 102 international flights connecting Chengdu with other overseas cities.

Chengdu tourism conference planning a better future for all

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is the most famous tourist spot in Chengdu.

Chengdu is also an ancient city with a history of civilization spanning 4,500 years. It is also renowned for its historical sites. It was also the capital of Liu Bei’s Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280), as well as several other local kingdoms during the Middle Ages. The pattern of sunbird gold foil unearthed from the Jinsha Archeological Site symbolizes the Chinese cultural heritage.

Chengdu is accelerating its progress of building itself into a “National Central Metropolis,” and by the end of last year the gross domestic product grew 7.7 percent year on year to over 1.2 trillion yuan. The city’s GDP growth is 1 percentage point higher than the national average. During the past five years, more than 1 million entities have registered to the market and some 530,000 newly emerged.

A national pilot free trade zone, consisting of three districts, with two in Chengdu, had its unveiling ceremony in the city on April 1. The China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, where Chengdu occupies 100 square kilometers and is the core, prompts international trade and the start-up business in the province. On August 14, Malaysia National Pavilion joined the FTZ in Chengdu’s Shuangliu area.

By July 10 this year, more than 7,600 companies signed up to be a member of the free trade zone, with the registered capital exceeding 102.6 billion yuan. In the first half of this year, Chengdu’s total import and export volume jumped 67 percent year on year to 181.3 billion yuan, which was highlighted as the result of the FTZ’s establishment, said Ruan Qingsong, a professor specializing in economy and management at Shanghai’s Tongji University.

“It shows the driving effect on Chengdu’s export-oriented economy brought by the FTZ,” Ruan said.

“The setup of FTZ makes many foreign-trade-based enterprises transfer their business and economic entities to Chengdu and that’s one of the factors attributing to the rapid growth of the foreign trade.”

Meanwhile, Chengdu also attaches importance to its cultural promotion. Taking advantage of its natural and historical elements, Chengdu, one of the state’s 10 ancient capitals, keeps promoting its featured cultures like Shu culture, Three Kingdoms culture and giant panda culture. The city government aims to make Chengdu a city of intangible cultural heritage, music, design and exhibition.

It held a series of over 400 events during the 2017 Chengdu International Festival of Intangible Cultural Heritage, between June 10 and 18, with people from 105 countries, regions and international organizations enrolled, aiming to showcase the variety of diverse cultures and exchange the experiences on intangible cultural heritage protection between countries.

The festival was the first international event in Chengdu featuring intangible heritage, which gained the support of UNESCO. For a decade, it has become an important platform for promotion of the UN Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and for strengthening international cooperation.

Chengdu tourism conference planning a better future for all

Dujiangyan Irrigation System is the oldest and the only surviving no-dam irrigation system in the world.

On August 24, an event with a theme of “Chengdu aiming to build the national center of culture and creativity in western China” was held in Hong Kong as a part of the Sichuan-Hong Kong-Macau Cooperation Week. During the event, Chengdu was awarded as one of the World Cities Culture Forum members. Meanwhile, Chengdu will host the 2018 Belt and Road & Urban Cultural Development Forum.

Conor Roche, a special representative on behalf of the World Cities Culture Forum president, addressed great expectation on the new comer. He believes Chengdu’s joining will prompt the global cultural exchange and the development of cultural and creative industries around the world.

Besides turning itself into a culture and creative hub, city government also put high priority on environmental protection. The first phase of Jincheng Greenbelt, an important part of the whole 17,000-kilometer Tianfu Greenbelt, has started construction on September 2 in the city’s Yushi Wetland Area.

According to the designers from the Sichuan Architectural Design and Research Institute, the greenbelt acts as a “slow traffic system” which can prevent the cyclists and pedestrians from merging with each other.

Meanwhile, the greenbelt, which will connect with major scenic spots and infrastructure and run through waterways, hills and forests, will enable residents to have a better sight.

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