"This region (Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area) is very rich. It's the heart of tourism in China. That means it's gonna be one of the hearts of tourism in the world." Maribel Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) made the remarks in an interview with GDToday at the China Outbound Tourism Conference during the 31st Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) on May 20.
Maribel Rodriguez delivers a welcoming speech at the China Outbound Tourism Conference during the 31st Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) on May 20, 2023. (Photo: GITF)
The GITF was held in Guangzhou, Guangdong from May 19 to 21, seeing the participation of tourism bureaus, airlines, hotels, scenic spots and travel agencies from 55 countries and regions, offering the latest tourist information and discount activities for the public.
An important part of GITF, the Conference presented East-West dialogues about the new wave of Chinese outbound tourism, featuring both domestic and international guests such as Maribel Rodriguez, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, CEO of China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), and Xu Honggang, Dean of the School of Tourism Management from Sun Yat-sen University.
The China Outbound Tourism Conference takes place during the fair on May 20, 2023. (Photo: GITF)
Speaking of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), Rodriguez said that such a big initiative is very welcoming and a huge opportunity, as it's economically and socially bringing a lot of good to the region, not only locally but also globally, in the fields of employment, commerce, trade, infrastructure, culture, tourism, and so on.
People visit the travel fair in Guangzhou on May 20, 2023. (Photo: GITF)
She also gave a demonstration of why the GBA can be a good central point for tourism by citing the WTTC's Cities Economic Impact Report released in early 2023. The report shows that four Chinese cities including two GBA ones, namely Guangzhou and Macao, will be in the top ten ranking among 82 global cities in terms of tourism economy within the next decade.
Before the pandemic, China in 2019 unveiled a blueprint for the GBA to be built into a world-class tourism attraction and leisure destination. According to the plan, Hong Kong SAR is expected to become an international tourism hub and a core area for high-speed rail tourism, while the Macao SAR will be built into a world tourism and leisure center, moreover a national tourism demonstration zone will be established in the Pearl River Delta region.
People visit the Hong Kong booth at the fair. (Photo: GITF)
A booth featuring Hengqin and Qianhai at the fair. (Photo: GITF)
In Rodriguez's opinion, the tourism sector in the GBA is doing what she believes a world class tourism destination should do, which is to offer a good product that the tourists want. These pertinent needs cover cultural and commercial exchanges, multicultural connectivity, travel experience, etc. "Because at the end of the day, the consumer is more exigent, and they want to feel good when they travel."
Rodriguez also mentioned a few trends in the tourism industry, for example, the traveling experience will be more appreciated as digitalization contributes to a frictionless, flawless travel; clients now are more responsible and sustainable, what clients much need is flexibility.
Author | Monica
Editor | Olivia, Jerry
Holly also contributed to the story.