Parliamentary Under Secretary Helen Whately,
Mr. Li Jiangang,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a real delight to join you at the Opening Ceremony of the China Pavilion at WTM London.
In a deeply globalized world, tourism has become an important channel of exchange and mutual learning between different countries and different cultures.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In the past 70 years, the cultural and travel industry in China has achieved much progress, turning the country into a major player in world tourism. China’s tourism industry has entered an era of rapid development and great prosperity.
This year is also the 65th anniversary of China-UK diplomatic relationship at the chargé d’affaires level. The past 65 years have seen China-UK cooperation on culture and tourism starting from scratch and becoming deeper and more substantial. This cooperation has ushered in a “golden era”.
Going forward, China-UK cooperation on tourism enjoys enormous potential and promising prospects.
First, travelling is an important way to experience the charm of different cultures.
People travel for spiritual well-being as well as leisure consumption. Travel is always regarded as a way to cultivate the mind and therefore is closely connected with culture.
The Chinese people have always regarded travel as part of culture, placing equal value on “reading ten thousand books” and “ travelling ten thousand miles”.
With a profound civilisation of 5,000 years and thriving modern tourism industry, China has attracted tourists from all over the world.
Likewise, an important feature of UK’s tourism industry is that it is rooted in Britain’s rich cultural resources. “Must-see” destinations, such as the British Museum, the Edinburgh International Festival, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and Shakespeare’s Family Homes, all represent Britain’s traditional and modern culture.
All beautiful things are similar. China and the UK, though with different traditions, have both integrated their traditional and modern cultures into the tourism industry. Both countries are committed to fostering tourism highlights that embody the essence and spirit of their cultures.
Second, travel industry provides an effective driving force for improving people’s life.
The travel industry is an effective way to grow the economy and increase employment.
Reducing poverty through developing the tourism industry has played a key role in advancing the global cause of poverty reduction. Take China for example. In the past 40 plus years since the beginning of reform and opening up, China has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty. The development of tourism in remote rural areas played an important role in this success. Here at the China Pavilion, you could get to know some typical cases of poverty reduction through tourism.
China is now the largest market for outbound tourism. In 2017, China topped the world both in the number of people travelling abroad, which was 143 million, and in tourist expenditure overseas, which was 257.7 billion dollars. This was an important contribution not only to the global tourism industry, but also to the world economy as a whole.
In 2018, China became one of UK's top ten most valuable sources of tourists. On average, Chinese tourists spent more than 1,600 pound in Britain per person, which was 2.8 times the average tourist spending in this country.
Third, travelling helps build a bridge for exchanges and mutual learning between the Chinese and Western civilisations.
Both China and the UK are great civilisations. With profound history, splendid culture, magnificent landscape and diverse customs, both countries have rich tourism resources.
There are now 168 flights between China and the UK per week, facilitating more than 4,000 mutual visits every day. By visiting each other’s country, our people could enjoy each other’s hospitality and enhance understanding of each other’s culture. Such exchanges and mutual learning in turn enrich civilisations.
As our economies continue to grow and people’s life continues to improve, today’s tourists aspire for new, unique, informative and entertaining experience. This requires the governments and tourism industry of our two countries to enhance mutual learning both in policies and in practice.
Closer exchanges and cooperation will deepen the friendship between our peoples and cement the public support for our bilateral relations. It will also set an example for cultural exchanges between the East and the West.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
As people often say, “Travel broadens the mind”. I hope today’s event will give you a glimpse of the beauty of China and display the promising future of China-UK cooperation on culture and tourism.
Let’s join hands to build a bridge of friendship and cooperation between our two countries and achieve greater success in our tourism industry!