China is planning to give a significant push to business and educational tourism with India in 2016, which is being celebrated as the “China-India Tourism year”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping, during his visit to India in 2014, had agreed to collaborate on the tourism front in order to “reinforce the foundation of general goodwill among the public”.
In May 2015, the tourism authorities of the two countries signed the Agreement on Tourism Cooperation between the National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of India which provided strong support for various activities of the “tourism year” and other bilateral cooperation initiatives. After the conclusion of the Visit India Year in China in 2015, this year is being celebrated as the Visit China Year in India. The opening ceremony was held on 14 January by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) at the Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi during which Chinese artists staged a traditional Huangmei opera named The Seven Fairy Maiden. The CNTA has also designed nearly a hundred tourism promotion and exchange activities to woo Indian tourists by showcasing its history.
At a media interaction organised before the formal launch of the event, deputy director, general marketing and international cooperation at CNTA, Li Yaying, told reporters that business and educational tourism featured prominently on the types of tourism that will be actively promoted. “(Business, environmental, educational, medical etc.) are all very important areas that we wish to promote. Business travels, however, compose a very important part, and education tourism as well,” Li Yaying said, adding that, “Tourism is educational. We will distribute resources to students and young people so they know more about the Chinese culture and products.” Yaying noted that the number of mutual tourism visits between China and India is expected to reach 900,000 in 2015, and the number will exceed 1 million in 2016.
As part of the tourism promotional activities, a dedicated page for the “China-India Tourism year” will be launched in English on the overseas promotion website of Chinese tourism that will give access to relevant information. According to a press statement, the total number of outbound trips made by Chinese tourists in 2015 was 120 million and the corresponding figure in India was over 17 million. Calling this a “golden time for tourism development” in both countries, Yaying said that China and India will promote mutual tourism visits, uphold market order and provide better tourism services so that tourism cooperation can become a strong impetus to practical cooperation in various fields between the two countries.