South China's Guangdong Province is attracting attention from overseas and domestic partners in tourism after the successful opening of the Guangdong International Tourism and Culture Festival.
The festival, held in conjunction with the Pan-Pearl River Delta Tourism Promotion Convention, opened last Friday.
Sister links with BC
British Columbia (BC) of Canada is one such partner of Guangdong. Thanks to the establishment of sister links, BC will deepen ties in the sectors of tourism, education and culture.
"Since almost half of Chinese tourists to foreign destinations travel via Guangdong, we hope to strengthen exchange and co-operation with the southern Chinese province to attract more Chinese visitors to Canada," said Richard T. Lee, parliamentary secretary for the Asia-Pacific Initiative under British Columbia of Canada.
According to Lee, both tourism authorities in BC and Guangdong are drawing up a series of measures to deepen tourism ties that are expected to lead to "mutual benefits."
With an ancestral origin in Zhongshan of Guangdong Province, Lee spoke highly of the rapid development his hometown had achieved over the last two decades.
"Along both sides of the Pearl River, I see many advertising boards promoting big international business names. This shows that Guangzhou has become one of the important international business and trade centres," Lee told China Daily while on a sight-seeing boat on the Pearl River, which runs through Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.
Lee was on the boat, together with other foreign guests from overseas sister-link cities of Guangzhou, to enjoy a stunning fireworks show on the eve of the opening of the Guangdong International Tourism and Culture Festival.
On board was also Gordon Campbell, premier of BC, who led a delegation to the ongoing tourism gala, aiming to promote resources of tourism, energy, education and culture in BC.
According to Campbell, a co-operative scheme on educational exchange and co-operation was reached between BC and Guangdong on Friday.
"We are working on detailed measures on higher learning co-operation, as well as in sectors of tourism and culture, between BC and Guangdong," Campbell said.
Campbell did not release details of the co-operative projects.
"BC boasts a very good relationship with Guangdong. Besides trade and economic co-operation, both sides are also working harder to promote cultural, tourism and educational ties," he said in an interview with China Daily.
BC became a sister city with Guangdong 11 years ago.
Variety of activities
According to Campbell, a direct flight between Guangzhou and Vancouver is expected to be launched within a year.
During his stay in Guangzhou, Campbell also had a meeting with top officials from China Southern Airlines based in Guangzhou.
"We have reached an agreement to open the direct flight, which both sides believe will deepen business and tourism ties," Campbell said.
According to Campbell, a special photo exhibition, featuring charming landscapes of BC, is currently running in Guangzhou.
"The exhibition, displaying 130 photos by Canadian photographers, is seen as an important bridge for Chinese people to gain more knowledge of BC," Campbell said.
Last year, Guangdong organized a large photo exhibition in BC to promote the southern Chinese province's tourism resources when governor Huang Huahua led a business delegation to visit Canada.
On Friday evening, a total of 20 art performers from BC, including musician Ali Milner, a music band of the Higgins Family, jointly presented a stunning show at the opening ceremony of the Guangdong International Tourism and Culture Festival.
The six-day gala also witnessed attendance of representatives from 10 overseas provinces and cities that have established links with Guangdong.
On Saturday evening, another art show, performed by art troupes from 10 overseas provinces and cities, was also held at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou.
Besides art performances, the ongoing festival will also host more than 80 activities, featuring promotion of tourism, culture and food in Guangdong and the Pan-Pearl River Delta region.
One highlight is the Pan-Pearl River Delta Tourism Promotion Convention, which has attracted a great number of governmental tourism authorities and companies from the Pan-Pearl River Delta area, including Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
Guangdong has so far signed a series of co-operation agreements in tourism with members of the Pan-Pearl River Delta region.
At this year's fair, tourism authorities from nine members of the Pan Pearl River Delta region will also sign detailed tourism agreements, according to Zheng Tongyang, director of the Guangdong Provincial Tourism Bureau.
Regional tourism zone
"Tourism companies from the region will also open discussions, aiming to seek future co-operation at the fair," Zheng said.
For example, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which boarders Guangdong in the west, will work closer with Guangdong to push forward the establishment of a regional tourism zone with Guangdong.
The zone was initiated early in 2004 when a tourism exchange and co-operation agreement was reached between Guangxi and Guangdong.
Under the agreement, both sides will offer preferential policies for tourism companies to open cross-regional businesses.
The zone was first launched within six major tourism cities in Guangxi and Guangdong.
Zheng said that all cities within Guangxi and Guangdong would join the regional tourism zone in the next few years.
"Hong Kong and Macao are also expected to join the regional tourism zone," Zeng said.
(China Daily November 27, 2006)