On July 22, World Tourism Alliance Member’s Day 2021 was held in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China. Themed by “Festival Brands Building and City Tourism Development”, WTA Member’s Day 2021 was sponsored by World Tourism Alliance (WTA) and undertaken by Harbin Municipal Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting, Television and Tourism, a member of WTA. More than 100 guests, including Duan Qiang, Chairman of WTA, Liu Shijun, Secretary-General of WTA, Wang Kunxin, Deputy Secretary-General of WTA, Zheng Hao, Deputy Director-General of Bureau of International Exchange and Cooperation, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Zhang Lina, Deputy Minister of the Propaganda Department of the CPC Heilongjiang Provincial Committee, Secretary of Party Committee and Director-General of Heilongjiang Provincial Culture and Tourism Office, Yan Honglei, Member of the Standing Committee and Minister of the Propaganda Department of the CPC Harbin Municipal Committee, and Lan Feng, Deputy Director-General of the Propaganda Department of CPC Harbin Municipal Committee, Secretary of the Party Committee and Director of the Harbin Municipal Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting, Television and Tourism, as well as representatives from over 30 WTA members such as cultural and tourism departments, enterprises, universities, associations, etc. from some provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) and the media, etc. attended the event. Li Changlin, Director of WTA General Administration Division, presided over this event.
Chairman Duan Qiang expressed his sincere gratitude to the Harbin Municipal Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting, Television and Tourism on behalf of WTA, and expressed a warm welcome to the guests who came from afar. Duan Qiang said that, “Although the global tourism industry has been severely affected by COVID-19, members continue to support the development of WTA in this particular time, which is really touching. In the future, WTA will return the care and support of its members with better services.” Meanwhile, Duan Qiang mentioned that Harbin had been exploring ways to promote the development of city cultural tourism on the basis of festival brands over years, and created a number of icons of contemporary Chinese cities, such as Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, International Skiing Festival, International Beer Festival, Harbin Summer Music Concert, etc., vitalizing the old city. The experience was of a good reference value for WTA and the majority of members. He hoped that all the guests can gain something through this event. Duan Qiang said that as an international platform for tourism to promote communication, understanding and mutual trust, WTA was responsible for and confident in contributing to the global industry’s response to the call of the times. He wished WTA Members’ Day in Harbin a great success.
Zhang Lina, Deputy Minister of the Propaganda Department of the CPC Heilongjiang Provincial Committee, Secretary of Party Committee and Director-General of Heilongjiang Provincial Culture and Tourism Office, expressed her gratitude to WTA for hosting the first WTA Members’ Day 2021 in Heilongjiang, and welcomed all guests to gather in Heilongjiang. Zhang Lina briefly introduced the tourism characteristics of Heilongjiang Province and the main festival activities here, and exchanged views on Heilongjiang Province’s practices of creating the tourism brand of “North Country Sceneries Gather in Heilongjiang”. She said that Heilongjiang Province would continue to accelerate the high-quality development of culture and tourism, and provided high-quality services for the development of WTA. Meanwhile, she welcomed members of WTA and friends from all circles to visit Heilongjiang, strengthen exchanges and cooperation, and support the development of Heilongjiang’s tourism industry.
In the keynote speech, Lan Feng, Deputy Director-General of the Propaganda Department of CPC Harbin Municipal Committee, Secretary of the Party Committee and Director of the Harbin Municipal Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting, Television and Tourism, shared the establishment and innovation of the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival brand under the subject of “Festival Brands Building and City Tourism Development”, and the successful creation of the festival brand of “Charming Harbin Summer”. The successful creation of city tourism festival brands can help promote the city economic development. At present, Harbin’s two major tourism festival brands in both winter and summer are blooming together. They have become the icons of the city, promoting various related industries, accelerating and pushing forward Harbin’s cultural and tourism industries.
Zhang Xiaoming, professor and doctoral supervisor of the School of Tourism Management at Sun Yat-sen University, addressed the topic of “Festival Activities and City Tourism Destination Image Construction”. From the perspective of communication semiotics, based on domestic paper media reports of major tourist source cities and major We Media platform information, he revealed the relevance of many festivals in Harbin and the image of city tourist destination, and integrated other typical cases at home and abroad to further explore the feasible ways to enhance the image of city tourism destinations through festival branding, and put forward suggestions to strengthen festival targeting, entertainment and experience feeling.
Wang Shubai, Vice President of Tuniu.com, addressed the topic of “Promoting the Upgrading of Cultural Tourism Consumption and Empowering the Construction of Tourism Cities Through Festivals” in a video form. Wang Shubai made in-depth analysis from four aspects, i.e. traditional festivals and modern festivals, festivals flourishing a city, festival branding path and how tourism companies contribute to festival branding, and discussed many new topics in the construction of tourism cities under the great context of upgrading cultural tourism consumption demands. In addition, he took Tuniu.com’s many online and offline marketing plans as examples to show how to take advantage of the benefits of festival activities to help the transformation and upgrading of tourism cities.
Li Xiaofeng, Vice Board Chairman and CEO of UnionPay International, addressed the theme of “Innovative Payment to Help the Construction of Smart Tourism City”; taking the numerous measures of UnionPay before and after the May Day holiday in Macao SAR as an example, he shared how to use innovative payment technology to help the construction of a smart tourism city and enhance the brand influence of festivals, and strengthened cooperation between all parties through multiple channels in the future, taking payment and technological innovation to assist the transformation and upgrading of the tourism industry.
Zhou Weihong, Member of the Board of Spring Group and Deputy General Manager of Spring Tour, shared the experience of Spring Tourism in creating “City Micro-Tours” and promoting the city tourism development in Shanghai via festival activities, based on the classic cases, such as Shanghai’s classic festival tourism routes, the May 5th Shopping Festival and Shanghai International Tourism Festival, from the perspective of “Festival Activities and City Tourism Product Development”. Spring Tourism enters the local tourism through micro-tourism products, and has designed and launched 150 micro-tourism products around Shanghai, which are all welcomed by the market. Thanks to its novel, unique and sincere quality, micro-tourism products are getting quite appealing.
Liu Shijun expressed his gratitude to the guests for their wonderful speeches. He said that WTA Members’ Day aimed to share and discuss how to use festivals and large-scale events to promote the development of city tourism while building consumer brands in cities. He said, “This topic starts from microcosm, and seems little relevant to the development of tourism, but in essence, the two are mutually reinforcing. As a famous historical city, Harbin boasts a good ecological environment, unique resource endowments, and a superior foundation for the development of cultural tourism industry. The city brands, such as “the city of music” and “the ice city in winter and cool city in summer”, are deeply rooted in the mind of people, and the integration of culture, tourism and sports has burst out great vitality. It is very appropriate and representative to hold WTA Members’ Day with this topic in this city. It is hoped that the guests on site will have some enlightenment, insights and gains during this trip!”
WTA Members’ Day is a small-scale themed member event held regularly and irregularly from 2019 on the basis of a full investigation of the needs of members by WTA to give full play to the role of WTA platform and create a normalized exchange and sharing mechanism within WTA. Previously it had been held in Provence of France, Enshi of Hubei, and Guilin of Guangxi in China. Since 2020, due to the repeated affects of the epidemic, WTA has cancelled three WTA Members’ Days originally scheduled. However, through various methods such as launching interviews, research reports, and live online forums, etc., it has provided channels for communication and cooperation among global members. This WTA Members’ Day in Harbin is the first one held by WTA in 2021, and also the first one held since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020. It plays a positive role in encouraging members to reinforce their confidence in development and accelerate the pace of development, and promoting the exchanges and cooperation of tourism at home and abroad.