Tourism brings people, connections closer
Travellers on horseback visit Dunhuang, a major stop on the ancient Silk Road as well as a tourist city further boosted by the Belt and Road Initiative. [Photo: Xinhua]
The Belt and Road initiative has inspired a new generation of travellers to explore the ancient trade routes of Asia.
While taking in the sights, they may not realize that they are making a massive contribution to enhancing people-to-people bonds.
Travel agencies and organizations regard the Belt and Road Initiative as an enormous opportunity for promoting global connectivity.
Beijing based China Youth Travel Service is one of the early birds among its peers to dig into new possibilities from the initiative.
It's been organizing tourism groups to countries such as Iran and Russia to give travelers a unique taste of the region.
Group members are treated to authentic local delicacies and have the chance to see cultural wonders with their own eyes.
CYTS marketing and sales chief Feng Ruobin says they want their clients to gain a new perspective of the world.
"Our clients have more money to spend and are becoming more demanding in their travels. They want to walk new paths and reach new places. So we want to take them to countries with histories that run long and cultures that go deep. They will have a unique experience comparing the ancient Silk Road with today's economic belt. They can also go along maritime Silk Road travel routes. The purpose is to offer them new perspectives through cultural exchanges."
Cruise vacation lovers now have the chance to trace the maritime Silk Road on the luxury liner the "Majestic Princess".
Over 6,000 passengers will join her on her maiden voyage next week.
They will set sail from Italy and reach their final destination in Xiamen.
Anthony Kaufman, deputy executive officer of the cruise liner's international operation, says the passengers are eager to learn about the silk roads on this voyage.
"That's one of the reasons why Princess Cruises is so popular with the passenger base that we have. So our passengers are naturally curious about the world and especially with the ship being built solely for the Chinese market. I think that's raised a lot of interest. China is a very important country now, it's in the news all the time so I think they wanted to find out more about the Chinese culture and about the history of the Chinese culture."
China has become the world's biggest country in terms of tourists output. Its market has huge potential for growth.
Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization, says the travel sector can also have an effect beyond its own boundaries, and boost other industries.
"Tourism by nature is a very horizontal sector, it touches on everything. Just to give you an example, if you create one full-time job in tourism, you're creating another 1.4 jobs in other sectors. So, let's say a hotel has 100 people, you're creating 240 jobs. That's how it affects the industry horizontally. Economically, even, it brings so many benefits to the economy. It's a sector that stimulates other sectors and affects them. "
The Secretary General also says while tourism is bringing many benefits to other industries, it cannot flourish without the support of supply chains, transportation and traditional crafts.
In his words, "there is nothing more powerful than people traveling and moving to connect the world."