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Insights & Inspirations | Shaping New Ecology of Deep Integration of Culture & Tourism Build Shanghai into A World-Famous Destination


Cheng Meihong

Deputy Director of Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism

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Dear guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen:

Good morning!

It is a great pleasure to meet you all by the beautiful Xianghu Lake and discuss the future of the tourism industry centering on harmony and sharing, better tourism destination policies, and improved tourism governance. For the purpose of modernization, taking a global perspective, and looking into the future, Shanghai has made it clear that by 2025, it would build itself into a world-famous tourism destination, the first choice for urban tourism, an open hub for international tourism, a gateway in the Asia-Pacific region drawing tourism investment, and a metropolitan city displaying latest digital development. To achieve these, Shanghai will roll out the plan to double its tourism revenue and the Peak Talent Project.

As is known to all, COVID-19 has had unprecedented impact on the global tourism industry over the past three years, far beyond what we had expected. Facing huge challenges, the over 10,000 enterprises and more than 500,000 people engaged in the culture and tourism industry in Shanghai showed great perseverance and dedication and pursued innovations and transformation. Culture and tourism authorities of the city strengthened anti-cyclic regulation, made arrangements across different cycles, launched 12 measures to support the tourism industry for three consecutive years, and continued to deepen the supply-side reform of the industry, striving to build advantages and create new development patterns amid the crisis.

As COVID 19 prevention and control moved into a new stage, tourism will highly likely move faster towards a strong recovery. Positive trends have been seen in Shanghai’s tourism market. During the Spring Festival holiday of 2023, Shanghai received over 10.02 million tourists, breaking the 10 million mark, and achieved a total tourism revenue of 16.64 billion yuan, reinforcing its leading position as the first choice for urban tourism.

Modernization of the Chinese style requires an enriched spiritual world for the people, shared wealth for all, and a new form of human civilization. At a new starting point, the tourism industry shall seek to promote all-round human development and build spiritual wealth for all, which are new goals to pursue and new requirements to meet in the new era. We will work to reshape tourism with culture, and promote our culture through tourism, letting the two be mutually promoting and develop hand in hand based on enhanced cooperation and integration.

Next, under the theme of “Shaping New Ecology of Deep Integration of Culture & Tourism Build Shanghai into A World-Famous Destination”, I will share with you Shanghai’s practices and ideas in three aspects.

First, Shanghai highlights its special features as a metropolis and offers premium tourism options rich in cultural elements, so as to enhance its appeal to tourists.

Tourism, in essence, is a kind of cultural activity, in which people see different scenery, experience different lifestyles, meet new friends, and discover their new selves. Shanghai, as a tourism destination, is of the urban style, all-encompassing, and global. The whole city is a big open resort. An art museum offers not only fantastic art works, but also an approach to a better life, catering to people’s longing for an alternative way of life away from home.

During this year’s Spring Festival holiday, a prominent feature of Shanghai’s tourism market was that cultural activities such as exhibitions and art shows played a very important role. Shanghai Museum’s exhibition “Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London” even topped the online search list for a while. This consolidated our confidence in the idea that we should work to better leverage advantageous resources and promote the revolutional culture, Shanghai local culture and the Jiangnan culture in trying to turn more urban resources into tourism products, building Shanghai’s core competitiveness as a tourism destination and making Shanghai a calling card of China in the eyes of foreign tourists, an attractive place to go to for domestic visitors, and the true home for local Shanghai people.

In the future, Shanghai will continue to build tourism brands such as river tours, architecture-themed tours, art shows, and city exploration tours of the Shanghai style; and advance its grand museum program, grand gallery program, and society-wide aesthetics education program. It will also strive to create more overwhelmingly popular exhibitions like “The Making of Zhongguo”, “A Dialogue with the World”, and the “What is Shanghai Style” series. The aims is to imbue more cultural elements into tourism in Shanghai.

Second, the city will focus on the dual circulations to reshape functional platforms for tourism investment and consumption, so as to build its overall competitiveness. Shanghai is a window of China towards the world and a major port of inbound and outbound tourists. As cross-border group tours were re-launched on February 6, China is moving fast back into the global tourism arena. Inbound and outbound tourism has been perking up in Shanghai. Facing such a new situation, we will strive to broaden our horizon, improve the world-oriented mindset, level up our products and services according to international standards, and build our capacities to allocate resources globally and to communicate with the world by working on both investment and consumption.

On the one hand, we will strengthen city-wide hallmark events. Specifically, efforts will be made to upgrade China Shanghai Arts Festival, Shanghai International Film Festival, Shanghai TV Festival, Shanghai Tourism Festival, and Shanghai International Artwork Trade Week; better play the roles of major festivals in polishing the image, gathering resources, leading the trend, and promoting consumption; drive Chinese culture to go global by launching the “Light of the Silk Road” series, “A History of China in 100 Objects”, overseas exhibitions of Chinese cultural and art works, and the strategy to push Shanghai-made art shows, play scripts, audio and video programs, animation and games, and premium cultural and creative products to the international market, thus telling good stories of China and showcasing the splendor of Shanghai.

On the other hand, we will pool forces for major tourism investment projects, make more cross-cycle arrangements, do a good job in hosting the Shanghai Tourism Investment Promotion Conference and Tourism Plus Shanghai, release a new Shanghai Tourism Investment Guide, introduce a batch of new tourism investment projects and investment attraction programs, provide better tourism investment attraction mechanisms and improved investment and financing service systems, create a number of new tourism landmarks and portals that will attract over 10 million visitors, and come up with new growth engines for tourism in Shanghai as well as the Yangtze River Delta, the whole of China, and even the world.

Third, Shanghai will step up efforts to attract young people by moving faster forward on the new track of the digital transformation of tourism, building the city’s influence as a tourism destination. Not long ago, a resolution was adopted as the UN General Assembly, setting February 17 as the Global Tourism Resilience Day. In my opinion, a recovery of the tourism industry would not come if we cling to our previous development philosophy, paths, and methods. While building the resilience of the industry, we must also seek to become more flexible and tenacious and pursue high-quality development. To this end, we must be more acute about market demand and more agile in grasping new development opportunities.

Today, Generation Z is rising fast worldwide as a major force of consumption and this has brought about major changes in the global cultural and tourism markets. We will pay more attention to this segment of the market; work to better understand the special features of this new generation of consumers, such as their passion for the Chinese style, attention to self growth, love for cutting-edge technologies, and preference for intense experience; and, while adhering to the principle of inclusiveness and prudence, encourage the development of new tourism consumption scenarios, business forms, spaces, and models, centered on culture and art, immersive social interactions, special interests, urban exploration, etc. Thus, we will be able to create more hot spots and lead the trend in tourism consumption. Moreover, we will release a three-year action plan for building a meta universe for Shanghai’s culture and tourism sector, develop a map of enterprises in this sector, announce a number of innovative cases, launch some new tourism consumption scenarios featuring more distinctive Shanghai elements, integration of the physical and virtual worlds, and human-machine interaction. By doing so, we intend to present Shanghai as a city full of youthful vitality, attracting more visitors from near and far.

Dear guests and friends, Shanghai is an inclusive city that pursues excellence with an open and modest mind. Openness, innovation and inclusiveness are what we embrace and what drives Shanghai’s tourism development. Shanghai will aim at the highest international standards, strive for the highest quality, and continue to be market-based, law-based, and world-oriented in its efforts to create the best environment for the development of the culture and tourism industry, so as to bring greater benefits to market players.

Taking the Xianghu Dialogue as an opportunity, I would like to extend warm welcome to everyone in the tourism industry who would like to come and invest in Shanghai for better development, for new business models featuring in-depth integration of culture and tourism, for making Shanghai a world-renowned tourism destination, and for the journey of China’s tourism industry towards a bright future.