Xu Xiaoliang Attends China-Thailand Cultural Tourism Industry Summit and Delivers Keynote Speech: Driving Innovation in the Cultural Tourism Industry and Exploring New Opportunities for China-Thailand Cooperation

HONG KONG, July 4, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — On 1 July, the China-Thailand Cultural Tourism Industry Summit, hosted by the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre (GTERC) and organized by the China Chamber of Tourism and the China Women’s Chamber of Commerce, was held in Bangkok, Thailand. A Chinese delegation of more than 200 business leaders from the Chinese mainland, the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the Hong Kong SAR visited Thailand to participate in the China-Thailand Cultural Tourism Industry Summit, driving ChinaThailand cooperation in cultural tourism and injecting new impetus into the overall development of the cultural tourism industries in China and Thailand.

At the summit, Pansy Ho, Vice-Chairperson of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, President of the GTERC, and Vice-Chairperson and Secretary-General of the Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF) delivered the opening remarks. Jakkaphon Tangsutthitham, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, Ploy Tanikul, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Culture of Thailand, and Han Zhiqiang, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Thailand delivered welcome remarks.

Xu Xiaoliang, Co-CEO of Fosun International and Chairman of Fosun Tourism Group (FTG), was invited to attend the summit and delivered a keynote speech. Xu Xiaoliang said, “As a global consumer group, Fosun hopes to leverage its advantages in global and local operations to facilitate the mutual exchange of consumer demand, industry concepts and IP resources between the cultural tourism industries of China and Thailand, which will help drive innovation in the cultural tourism industry, and open up new opportunities for ChinaThailand cooperation.”

During the summit, Xu Xiaoliang held in-depth discussions with relevant leaders and corporate representatives from the Chinese and Thai cultural tourism sectors on topics such as how to foster ChinaThailand cooperation in cultural tourism and jointly drive the growth of the tourism economy in both countries.

The summit featured high-level dialogue and keynote speeches on “Leveraging Cultural Tourism for Mutual Prosperity” and “New Opportunities for Private Sector Collaboration in Cultural Tourism Development”, during which representatives of domestic and foreign institutions as well as entrepreneurs shared their perspectives on key issues surrounding ChinaThailand cooperation in cultural tourism.

Starting from Phuket and expanding presence in Thailand

China and Thailand have long been important tourist destinations and source markets for foreign tourists to each other. Since the mutual visa exemption agreement between China and Thailand for holders of ordinary passports officially took effect in 2024, the two-way tourism between the two countries has been flourishing. Official data shows that in the first quarter of this year, Thailand received a total of 1.76 million Chinese tourists, and China once again became the top source market for foreign tourists to Thailand. In March this year, the number of Thai inbound tourists at Xishuangbanna Gasa International Airport in Yunnan, China increased by 1183.87% month-on-month. As next year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Thailand, the mutual tourism between the two countries is poised to scale new heights.

Fosun’s relationship with Thailand began with the establishment of Club Med Phuket Resort. As the first resort brand to enter Phuket, the opening of the Club Med Phuket Resort in 1985 ushered in a new era of tourism development in Phuket. It not only led the establishment of a daily flight route from Bangkok to Phuket, but also helped transform Phuket into one of the most popular beach resort destinations in the world. Even today, 40 years later, Club Med Phuket Resort remains one of the most sought-after resorts in Southeast Asia, with an average annual occupancy rate of more than 75% and annual revenue of more than EUR25 million.

For Club Med, Thailand is now not only a key tourist destination, but also a major source market for tourists. During the ski season last year, Thai tourists contributed over EUR3 million to Club Med’s resorts in Hokkaido, Japan. With the launch of direct flights from Bangkok to Lijiang, Thailand has also become the largest source market for foreign tourists to resorts in Guilin and Lijiang, China.

Xu Xiaoliang noted that FTG has maintained close ties with Thailand’s cultural tourism industry, and plans to expand its presence in Thailand. Over the past year, the Company has conducted mutual visits with several prominent Thai cultural tourism enterprises, engaging in in-depth discussions on potential collaborations in areas such as IP introduction and operations.

Partnering with Thailand to advance cultural tourism innovation

As the jewel of Southeast Asia, Thailand is renowned worldwide for its cultural diversity and tourism offerings. Whether it is the creation of national brands or the construction of local infrastructure, there are many aspects of Thailand’s tourism industry that are worth learning from. In his keynote speech, Xu Xiaoliang shared insights on the emerging trends in China’s cultural tourism sector, as well as FTG’s innovative practices in areas such as urban vacation, super destination, and cultural tourism commerce. He also discussed the vast potential for ChinaThailand cooperation in cultural tourism.

Urban vacation

“The Chinese market differs from overseas markets in two main ways: in terms of vacation habits, Chinese consumers travel more frequently and prefer short-haul travels; in terms of geographic characteristics, China not only has a vast territory, but also has cities with very distinct features. China’s high-speed rail (HSR) network connects these cities and urban clusters, allowing people to travel between them in just one to two hours. This is why ‘travelling light’ and ‘micro vacations’ are becoming more and more convenient and common,” Xu Xiaoliang said.

Centering around this emerging trend, Club Med, a subsidiary of FTG, launched Club Med Urban Oasis, a new urban resort product line, positioning it as “an oasis in the corner of the city”. In the second half of 2023, Club Med opened two new Club Med Urban Oasis resorts in Nanjing and Taicang. In addition, seven years ago, Club Med introduced the Club Med Joyview product line, focusing on resorts located within three hours of major cities. Currently, Club Med operates three Club Med Joyview resorts in Anji, Yanqing and Qiandao Lake in China.

In June this year, Club Med launched a Club Med Joyview resort in Heilongtan, Chengdu. As the first Club Med Joyview resort in the southwest region, Club Med Joyview Heilongtan Resort achieved a gross merchandise value (GMV) of RMB50 million in pre-sales. “Through these urban and city cluster resort product lines, we aim to provide city dwellers with accessible vacation experiences.”

Super destination

Atlantis Sanya is a well-known super resort destination in China. Fosun has partnered with Kerzner, a world-renowned IP management company, to manage and operate the resort, which has driven continuous revenue growth for Atlantis Sanya. In 2023, Atlantis Sanya saw 6.08 million visitors and a business volume of RMB1.68 billion.

The remarkable success of Atlantis Sanya is not only attributed to the marine-themed immersive experiences offered at the aquarium and water park, but also stems from the continuous enrichment and upgrading of entertainment, catering, commerce, performing arts and other offerings at the resort. Over the years, Atlantis Sanya has introduced many well-known IPs such as the China Mermaid Open Championship and Honor of Kings, and has innovatively organized major events such as “Pink Night” and Super Summer. New experiences and events are constantly being introduced to refresh the offerings for visitors. With the start of the summer vacation, this year’s Super Summer will soon be grandly launched at Atlantis Sanya. Newly introduced highlights include an ice cream carnival and the “Adventure of Mountains and Seas” themed water show, which are poised to deliver a holiday experience filled with surprises and joy for families.

Xu Xiaoliang said, “At the same time, Fosun is actively planning the launch of the ‘Super Mediterranean’ project in Sanya. Thailand has a rich portfolio of cultural tourism IPs and world-leading expertise in the performing arts field. Fosun looks forward to collaborating with more Thai IPs and events in the ‘Super Mediterranean’ project to jointly create a world-class resort destination.”

Cultural tourism commercial complex

Commerce plays an indispensable role in Thailand’s cultural tourism industry. Thailand is also a leader in the transition from 1.0 retail-based business to 2.0 experience-based business. Thai businesses are known for integrating local culture into their offerings and leveraging technology to create immersive experiences. In China, there are over 6,000 malls spanning 30,000 square meters or more, many of which have underutilized assets in need of revitalization through impactful content, presenting a vast market opportunity.

“The outstanding examples in the field of cultural tourism commerce in Thailand provide valuable insights for Fosun to build cultural tourism commercial complexes in China. The key is to take ‘traffic + content’ as the core, with high-quality content created based on ‘culture + technology’,” Xu Xiaoliang explained.

Fosun is currently working on the construction of Grand Yuyuan, a major urban renewal project in Shanghai. The project integrates various functions such as commerce, residence, and fashion consumption. It is positioned as a “global fashion and cultural showground with the charm of oriental lifestyle aesthetics”, serving as a main stage for Chinese fashion brands to go global as well as a “bridgehead” for great overseas fashion brands to expand into the Chinese market. The 29th Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival, held in the first phase of the Grand Yuyuan, fully integrated the intangible cultural heritage lanterns with emerging technologies such as the metaverse, AR, and digital humans, attracting countless tourists. It was also known as the “Chinese romantic ceiling” on social media.

Meanwhile, the Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival made its overseas debut in Paris, France this year. Sixty large lantern installations and more than 2,000 lanterns lighted up Paris and Shanghai. The Lantern Festivals in Shanghai and Paris not only demonstrated the unique charm of oriental culture to the French people, but also celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, and the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, and served as a blessing to the upcoming Paris Olympics. During peak hours, Jardin d’Acclimatation recorded a huge foot traffic of 4,000 people per hour. As a result, crowd control measures had to be implemented. In the end, the global reach of the Lantern Festivals in Shanghai and Paris generated 7 billion impressions.

“Following the Festival Dragons et Lanternes in Paris, France, Fosun has received invitations from many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Portugal, and Germany, all of which hope that the Year of the Snake Lantern Festival can be held in their countries next year. This success has shown us the importance of exporting cultural soft power and the infinity possibilities of cooperation through cultural and tourism exchanges.”

“As we welcome the upcoming 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Thailand, we believe that the cooperation opportunities between the two countries have just begun. Looking ahead, on the one hand, we look forward to the opportunity to bring the Lantern Festival to Thailand, where it can integrate with Thai culture and flourish together; on the other hand, we also look forward to more Thai cultural events in China, so that the Chinese people can gain a deeper understanding of the unique charm of Thai culture,” Xu Xiaoliang concluded.


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