The 65th Annual Convention and Exhibition of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) recently concluded in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province of China, is expected to give a new dimension to tourism exchange between India and China. The three day conference witnessed the presence of over 485 Indian delegates networking and exchanging their ideas among themselves. Industry leaders also spoke on contemporary issues and suggested road ahead to take the industry on newer heights. The theme of the Convention was ‘Tourism Beyond Boundaries’.
Inaugurating the Convention, Mme Li Milan, Vice Governor of Yunnan province, said that India has emerged as an important source market for China while China is the potential market to send travelers to India. “Both China and India are developing countries with rapid economic development, increased living standards of the peoples and a fast growing middle class group, which created golden opportunities for tourism development.” She emphasized on focusing on building people- to –people exchange between both countries. “Social and people to people exchanges with tourism included as one of its integral component, play an important part in enhancing relations between India and China. In April this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Indian Prime Minister Modi during the East Lake meeting in Wuhan. President Xi pointed out that China and India should jointly carry out comprehensive cooperation plan between the two countries and promote more extensive and social and people-to-people exchange. Prime Minister Modi responded that two sides should promote people-to-people friendship and raise bilateral relation to a new level,” she said.
Highlighting the tourism potential of Yunnan, Milan said that Yunnan is one of the most advantageous province in China blessed with abundant tourism resources and endowments. “The province has cultivated a large number of tourist destinations and built brands that are well received by travelers from both domestic and abroad... At present, Yunnan has ushered in a precious development opportunity against the backdrop of the initiatives such as the ‘Belt and Road International cooperation’, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and building Yunnan as China’s powerhouse facing South Asia and South East Asia, achieving progress in a quick pace,” she informed.
Addressing the media before the inauguration, He Ligui, Director General, Yunnan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, said that the tourism department is keen to woo tourists from India which is close to the province and whose inflow has been limited till now. “Kunming has spring like weather throughout the year as in summer it is not too hot and in winters not too cold,” he said and informed that Kunming is just 4 hours flight from Delhi and 2 hours from Kolkata. He informed that Yunnan welcomed 573 million domestic and foreign tourists to deliver a total of 692.2 billion Yuan. ““In first 10 months of this year we saw 601 million tourists and overall this year we expect some 700 million tourists,” Ligui added.
Talking to media, Li Bijan, Minister-Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in India, informed that this Convention provides a platform for two sides: TAAI and its counterpart to exchange views of how to carry cooperation in the field of tourism. “It would be a model platform for the other platforms of cooperation like cooperation in sports, leisure and culture tourism. Moreover, it will also provide a platform for Chinese tour operators to know the requirements of the Indian tourists. Currently, around 800,000 Chinese visits India and around 200,000 Indian visits China and this number is very small. So, there is a huge opportunity for two way tourism exchange. If we can fly together, we can fly higher,” he added. He also informed that both India and China are organizing people-to-people exchange in New Delhi from December 18-20, 2018 where foreign ministers of both countries will be present.
Speaking on the occasion, Sunil Kumar, President, TAAI said that the convention will act as a model platform for further boosting closer tourism exchanges between the two countries. He opined that this Convention will make Kunming and Yunnan province household name among Indian travel trade fraternity. He informed that currently less than 10,000 Indian tourists visit the Yunnan province annually. “Yunnan has huge potential to attract tourists from India. There are a number of exotic spots in Yunnan and people who go to foreign locations for weddings can come here,” Kumar added.
During the Convention TAAI also singed and MoU with Yunnan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism to further strengthen the tourism cooperation between India and Yunnan.