Remarks by Ambassador Luo Zhaohui at the TAAI New Year Reception

(Le Meridien, New Delhi, January 15, 2019)

Mr. Sunil Kumar, President of Travel Agents Association of India,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Namaste! Happy New Year!

I am delighted to participate in this Reception. Thank you Mr. Kumar for giving me such honor. The video shows how successful the annual Conference of TAAI in Kunming is. Congratulations again.

A scholar told me that Indian government is right now promoting 4 soft power elements abroad, namely Yoga, Ayurveda, Buddhism, and overseas Indians. I just wonder why Bollywood movie is not included.

In China, among the youth in urban areas, there are three fashionable things, namely watching the Bollywood movie, practicing yoga and, tasting darjeeling tea. Yoga is very popular in China. China is the only country outside India to issue Yoga MA degrees. The movie Dangal had an even better box office in China than in India. Of course, China has the largest Buddhist population in the world. There are 550 million Buddhists in the world and almost half of them are in China. Xuan Zang and Bodhidharma are very popular in China and India.

China and India have shared common and integrated heritages of civilization. Such kind of common heritages provide us with plenty of tourism resources.

Last year I went to Jianchuan Caves, Chongsheng Temple in Yunan province and the Yoga institute in Yunnan Minzu University. Your conference held in Yunnan is another splash and fruits of bilateral interaction.

From your perspective, you may think this is just business. For me, it is much more than that. It is related to People-to-people interaction, cultural and tourist exchanges and practical cooperation. In one word, it is part of the bilateral relations. That’s why I and my colleagues tried our best to bridge TAAI and Yunnan and push very hard to organize this event.

I deeply appreciate Mr. Kumar and his team, and Yunnan government. Without your efforts and the hard work, this event will be impossible.

The conference is a new start of tourism cooperation between Yunan and India, and even between China and India.

Last year China celebrated the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up. China’s total GDP reached over 13 trillion USD, with a per capita GDP of 9000 USD. Last year more than 140 million Chinese people travelled abroad. They are not only for sightseeing, but also for shopping, promoting the local economic growth.

Last year, China and India’s two-way personnel exchange was just over 1 million. Among them only 200,000 tourists are from China to India. That means we still have a great potential. Last December, when the first meeting of High-level People-to-People and Cultural Exchange Mechanism was held in New Delhi, both sides agreed to set a new target of 2 million bilateral visits. That requires joint efforts from both countries, including TAAI.

After Wuhan Summit, our bilateral relations have entered a fast track. Your tourist minister was in China for a road show. For future cooperation, I would like to make the following suggestions.

First, fully implement the bilateral agreement on tourism cooperation. Both sides should give full play of their tourism offices and organize more tourism promotion events.

Second, both sides should implement the MOU signed during the Kuming conference and organize more Theme Tourism activities, such as buddhism tours, pilgrimage tours, Bollywood tours, yoga tours and wedding tours.

Third, both sides should further improve the infrastructure building regarding tourism and train more language proficient guides.

Fourth,open more flight routes. The current 47 direct flights a week are far from enough for bilateral tourism development. We may explore the possibility of opening more direct flights or chartered flights to meet the growing tourism needs.

Fifth, provide visa facilitation and make it easier for people to get visas, so as to encourage more personnel exchanges.

Sixth, we invite TAAI to China again for your future annual conference to further enhance bilateral tourism cooperation.

In the new year, we are looking forward to work closely with you to add new momentum for bilateral tourism and make new contribution to the development of China-India relations.

Thank you.

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