Business / Industries

High seas of touring opportunity

By Deng Yanzi in Hong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-03 09:21

High seas of touring opportunity

Chinese tourists cross into Vietnam from the Cambodian border town of Bavet city. The tourism industry in Southeast Asia and China is expected to reap huge benefits from the proposed Maritime Silk Road.[Photo / AFP]

ASEAN can expect huge inflow of tourists after new Maritime Silk Road takes effect

Zheng He, a Chinese fleet admiral in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), commanded multiple expeditionary voyages from China all the way to the Middle East and East Africa more than 600 years ago. This larger-than-life character has helped inspire modern China to resume bonds with its old acquaintances along the route and seek mutual development.

China's grand hopes of reviving the Maritime Silk Road in the 21st century is yet to be shared by all regional countries: Some, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, have responded positively, while India, Vietnam and others have not. But this has by no means hindered the enthusiasm of the tourism industry in this region.

President Xi Jinping first introduced the MSR grand plan during a state visit to Indonesia in October 2013. It aims for mutual benefit and common development of China and other countries on the silk route, with emphasis on strengthening cooperation in such fields as infrastructure connectivity, energy and finance.

The MSR dates back to 2,000 years ago, when merchants sailed from China's eastern coast, passing Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Africa, all the way to the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.

The proposed present-day MSR route begins in Quanzhou in Fujian province on the mainland's southeast coast, and touches Guangzhou in Guangdong province and Beihai in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, before heading out to Hanoi and southward to the Malacca Strait and onwards.

From Kuala Lumpur, the MSR heads to Jakarta before crossing the Indian Ocean to Nairobi in Kenya, passing through Colombo in Sri Lanka and Male, capital of the Maldives.

Industry players expect a huge windfall for the Chinese tourism market as the modern MSR is projected to boost economic cooperation between China and the rest of the region.

With its "profound economic and cultural meanings", the MSR will be a boost for tourism in the region, says Zhao Yilu, chief strategy officer of Qunar, one of China's most popular online travel agencies.

"As MSR further develops, tourism to cooperating nations will grow, and we will work with travel service providers to offer more diverse and interesting travel routes to explore the cultures along the MSR," Zhao says.

"The improved connectivity as a result of the Maritime Silk Road will definitely have a positive impact on tourism," says Louk Lennaerts, chief visionary officer of Serenity Holding, which operates six luxury resorts in Vietnam.

The percentage of Chinese mainland guests in Vietnam, he says, is still relatively low, compared to those from Japan, South Korea or Hong Kong.

Despite the booking cancellations triggered by the China-Vietnam territorial dispute that resurfaced in May, Lennaerts believes the rising affluence of Chinese holidaymakers will lead to resumption of travel.

High seas of touring opportunity High seas of touring opportunity
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