November 13, 2008

Yunnan Tourism signs MoU on tourism exchange with West Bengal

To offer Lifestyle, Leisure, Sports, Experiential and MICE as tourism products

Kolkata, November 13, 2008: In a bid to strengthen the industrial and tourism cooperation with India, Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration (Yunnan Tourism) is focusing on tourism exchange with West Bengal. Yunnan Tourism signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with West Bengal Tourism Directorate, West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) and the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) Eastern Chapter on the 10th of this month in order to build a mutual bond on tourism practices, exchange and understanding.
Having approached the West Bengal Tourism Directorate, WBTDC and the TAAI Eastern Chapter, Yunnan Tourism plans to cash in on tourism opportunities in Kolkata and East India considering the short distance, newly launched air link and the similarities in culture and ethnicity. As part of the MoU, West Bengal Tourism Directorate and WBTDC have also planned to make the state more available for Chinese tourists.
Manabendra Mukherjee, Tourism Minister of West Bengal said, “Apart from developing destinations and other tourism products, we will be developing the China Town area of Kolkata and include it under the Destination Development Scheme.” Talking about plans to focus mainly on Eastern India, Yu Dingcheng, Director General, Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration, told TravelBiz Monitor, “Yunnan and West Bengal have many similarities in tastes and traditions and both enjoy large ethnic diversities. Also, Kolkata is at a distance of about two hour’s flight from Kunming, a region we are projecting as Yunnan’s USP. Apart from the newly-launched air link, Kolkata has a large harbour in coastal Eastern India. All these features have prompted us to start our promotional activities in India from Kolkata.”
China Eastern Airways, which re-started its operation from Kolkata last month, currently operates with four flights a week to Kunming. According to a China Eastern Airways official, depending on the growth in traffic, the airline may increase the flights to seven per week. Speaking about the tourism products offered by Yunnan Tourism, Dingcheng said, “Yunnan has the largest ethnic diversities in China and that will be one of our highest selling points. With large golf courses and natural hot springs, we will focus on tourism products like Lifestyle Tourism, Leisure Tourism, Sports Tourism and Experiential Tourism.”
Targeting these products at leisure tourists, Yunnan Tourism also sees potential of MICE segment when it comes to tourism exchange with India, especially Eastern India. “Eastern India still lacks exposure to good international destinations as MICE destinations. We are on a constant lookout to find more international MICE destinations which are lesser known but strong in terms of infrastructure when it comes to supporting MICE travellers. Yunnan has great potentials to host MICE segments,” said Devendra Parikh, Chairman, TAAI Eastern Chapter.Commenting on the stiff competition from Thailand Tourism, Dingcheng said, “Although Thailand is an old player when it comes to tourism exchange with India, we have come up tourism products that are different from those offered by Thailand.
Besides, we have geographical proximity with India and have better climate to offer. While most of the popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia cannot provide year-long tourism services due to extreme climate conditions, Yunnan has pleasant weather condition throughout the year and can play host at any time of the year.”

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