For UN tourism chief Taleb Rifai, China's Silk Road initiatives are promising to inject new life into Silk Road tourism for a win-win situation.
For the past 20 years, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been promoting a long-term project to revitalize Silk Road tourism. So China's efforts to pursue the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives come as a welcome boost.
"China is the birthplace of the Silk Road. As the concept of the Silk Road is gaining modern meaning today in the world of the 21st century, it's quite natural for China to provide a new leadership," said Rifai to Xinhua at this week's ITB tourism fair in Berlin.
By launching Silk Road initiatives, Chinese President Xi Jinping is sending a very important message that countries along the network of ancient trade routes must cooperate, he added.
Opening the 5th UNWTO Silk Road Ministers' Meeting at ITB on Wednesday, Rifai said: "It (the concept of silk Road tourism) brings our forces together. what's good for my neighbor is good for me. It's a win-win situation. It brings the countries, forces together where one and one become much more than two," he said.
Visa facilitation, infrastructure development and marketing were the priorities identified by the UNWTO Silk Road meeting to advance transnational routes.
While reporting on the measures taken to promote Silk Road tourism with a clear focus on visa facilitation, participants also called for a more collaborative approach to marketing, namely e-marketing and cooperation with tour operators.
Rustem Khairov, an adviser to the Russian Tourism Minister, sees the idea of Silk Road tourism as "super important" for Russia. He hoped that Russia could attract more tourists from all around the world especially China.
Muhammad Ajmal Gondal, a Pakistani official, said that the Silk Road Toursim is just a starting point and it's hopeful that people and business among the Silk Road countries can flow freely in the future.
China has made Silk Road tourism the central theme for its programs presented at this year's ITB.
For the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), this year is also the Silk Road Tourism Year to enhance themed tourism promotion.
According to Shi Xiang, who heads CNTA office in Frankfurt, the Belt and Road Initiatives proposed by China cover 65 countries and 44 million people across the world's two major tourist markets and tourism destinations. The total international tourism in this region accounted for more than 70 percent of the world.
Shi said the general goal of China promoting Silk Road Tour, led by national strategy of the Belt and Road Initiatives, is to create international boutique travel routes and tourism products characterized by Silk Road, to create the world's leading travel brands, and comprehensively promote the establishment of tourism cooperation mechanisms.
ITB Berlin, the world's leading travel trade fair, anticipates approximately 50,000 private visitors and more than 110,000 trade visitors from March 4 to March 8 this year.
(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2015)