Top tourism officials from China, Mongolia, Russia and the Republic of Korea, the four member countries of the Greater Tumen Initiative, plan to build uaally the GTI, to become a world-class tourism destination.
The officials made the vow on Sept 19 during the 3rd GTI Tourism Forum in Hunchun, which borders both the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Russia in Northeast China’s Jilin province.
Statistics from the World Travel & Tourism Council show that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in this region, last year, was $431.7 billion, ranking third in the world, after the European Union and North America.
“The Northeast Asia region has become one of the fastest-growing tourism destination regions in the world and we hope to build up the region to be a world-class tourism destination,” said Zhao Xiaojun, director of the Jilin Provincial Tourism Administration.
He also suggested that the GTI could learn from the cross-border tourism experiences of the EU and North America, and build the region to be a cooperative area of the Tumen River Delta. The area will become a borderless tourism demonstration pilot connected by highways, railways, aviation networks and land-ocean routes with the support of China, Mongolia, Russia, the ROK, the DPRK and Japan.
“We will focus on simplifying visa procedures, and hope to learn from the practice of EU countries for carrying out the Schengen Agreement that allows one visa to visit most of the countries within the economic entity freely to facilitate tourism,” Zhao said.
Statistics from the National Tourism Administration show that last year, the number of people who visited China from the ROK, Russia, Mongolia and Japan accounted for 38 percent of all inbound foreigners. The number of outbound Chinese to those four countries soared to 7.24 million, a yearly increase of 17.7 percent.
“Tourism has become an important industry to support each country’s economic development in expanding employment and promoting growth. China hopes to grasp the opportunity to enhance and expand its cooperation with member countries,” said Guo Changzeng, deputy director of the Department of Planning and Finance of the National Tourism Administration.
“The Northeast Asia region is expected to continue dynamic growth in the year to come, but still there are considerable challenges that the region needs to overcome,” said Hannah Ryder, deputy country director of the United Nations Development Programme China.
“Strong seasonal fluctuations of travel within the region, as well as a low level of hospitality services and infrastructure, are critical problems to overcome,” she said.