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Festival bears witness to growth of tourism market since 1990

China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-16 09:56
Dancers from the Colombia Amiga troupe perform in a dance and music show in downtown Shanghai as the 2019 Shanghai Tourism Festival opens on Saturday evening. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

SHANGHAI-The Shanghai Tourism Festival, which opened on Saturday night, has borne witness to China's development and the upgrading of people's consumption patterns since it was first staged in 1990.

Twenty-five floats representing well-known Chinese tourist destinations such as Nanjing and Suzhou in Jiangsu province, and 32 performance groups from 19 countries and regions, including Germany, Switzerland and France, participated in dance and music shows in downtown Shanghai that attracted some 300,000 spectators.

The 2019 festival, running to Oct 6, will feature 100 activities, including some for overseas travelers. An exhibition of folk cultures from countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative will also be held. Dozens of tourist sites, museums and galleries in Shanghai will offer half-price admission during the event.

The first tourism festival in Shanghai attracted half a million tourists from home and abroad, while last year's attracted 12.7 million. As people's living standards have improved remarkably, tourism is not a luxury any more, but a necessity for many.

"In 1995, the company rewarded me with a trip to Hainan. I was so proud and cherished it very much," a 54-year-old Shanghai taxi driver recalled. "Now, our income has increased a lot and travel has become routine for most people who are willing to spend their own money to relax."

Thirty years ago, there was a lack of ideal tourism resources, said Lu Guojun, a clerk with Shanghai Huangpu River Cruise Group, citing the swaths of cropland along the eastern coast of the river that flows through the city center.

In recent years, with improved infrastructure and rapid development of the service economy, more companies have joined the development of river tourism, Lu said.

Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy in Beijing, said people's aspirations for a better life led to high expectations of tourism quality.

In August, China issued a guideline to unleash the consumption potential of culture and tourism.

On Friday, Shanghai signed agreements with six cities and regions, including Budapest, Phnom Penh and Bangkok, to boost culture and tourism exchanges.

Culture and tourism promote mutual friendship and understanding, said Yu Xiufen, head of the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism.

Domestic tourists made 5.54 billion trips last year, up 10.8 percent year-on-year, and the total number of inbound and outbound tourists reached 291 million, up 7.8 percent.

Total tourism revenue reached 5.97 trillion yuan ($842.7 billion) last year, up 10.5 percent, data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed.

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