College News Main Headline

IFT hosts forum on tourism implications of ‘Belt and Road’

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

The IFT Tourism Research Centre hosted on 20 April an international forum on the long-term effects on global travel and tourism of the “Belt and Road” initiative being promoted by the People’s Republic of China.

The event was co-organised with the College of Tourism and Service Management of Nankai University, a partner institution of IFT based in Tianjin, Mainland China.

The forum – titled “China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative: Long-term Implications for Global Travel and Tourism”– brought together experts and scholars based in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR, to discuss the challenges, opportunities and implications for the global travel and tourism industry created by the “Belt and Road” initiative.

It took place at the Grand Hall, at IFT’s Taipa Campus.

The “Belt and Road” initiative covers 2 concepts: the “Silk Road Economic Belt”, and the “21st-Century Maritime Silk Road”. The initiative was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013. It is focused on infrastructure development aimed at strengthening links between the People’s Republic of China and more than 60 countries and regions in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

IFT President Dr. Fanny Vong noted during the 20 April forum that the “Belt and Road” initiative was one of the most ambitious and far-reaching programmes ever proposed by China, featuring a comprehensive vision, but also presenting a number of challenges. She highlighted that, while there had already been many forums discussing the impact of the “Belt and Road” initiative across a number of sectors, its implications for travel and tourism had so far been mostly neglected.

Dr. Vong added that IFT aimed to play an active role and contribute to the implementation of the “Belt and Road” initiative. She said that, as a result of ties with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and other international partners, the Institute was providing training to tourism and travel professionals hailing from the countries and regions covered by the “Belt and Road” initiative. In addition, there were plans to offer special scholarships to students from those places that were interested in studying at IFT. This, Dr. Vong said, would enhance people-to-people exchanges and promote knowledge sharing along the “Belt and Road”.

The IFT President added that the Institute was also discussing with its partner institutions from countries and regions covered by the “Belt and Road”, ways to deepen cooperation, including the launch of joint research projects.

One of the speakers at the event was Dr. Carson Lewis Jenkins, Emeritus Professor of International Tourism at the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland, in the United Kingdom. He is also an Elected Member of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism.

Dr. Jenkins said that the Chinese authorities believed the “Belt and Road” initiative would create new social, trade and educational opportunities for the countries and regions covered by the scheme. He added that, in the field of education, promoting lifelong learning should be one of the aims of the “Belt and Road” initiative, in order to lay solid foundations for further development of the countries and regions benefitting from the initiative.

Dr. Jenkins noted that IFT already had built a wide network of international partners in the field of travel and tourism education. That, he said, could propel the Institute to play an important role in the field of education under the “Belt and Road” initiative.

The U.K.-based scholar acknowledged the initiative created challenges for the travel and tourism sector, as the level of development differed among participating countries and regions. Tourist arrival figures were high in many mature markets across the “Belt and Road” area, but a number of developing countries covered by the scheme were still unable to attract significant volumes of tourists. There were also differing strategies being used in various countries. These ranged from a focus on cultural tourism, to shopping-based tourism, and the urban sort.

Dr. Jenkins warned however that tourism development was a lengthy and complex process, and it should be promoted step by step.

Another participant in the forum was the Dean of the College of Tourism Service Management of Nankai University, Professor Hanqin Qiu. She said Hong Kong and Macao had already developed significant expertise in travel and tourism, namely in terms of integrating what works well, and sharing the knowledge with outsiders, providing training to industry professionals internationally.

Prof. Qiu suggested making use of digital technologies to consolidate the existing training resources and to make them available online to professionals in the countries and regions covered by the “Belt and Road” initiative. This, she said, would help boost efficiency regarding talent development.

Prof. Qui said travel and tourism, as well as hospitality, were global industries. Businesses from all around the world in that sector, namely from more mature markets such as Hong Kong, the United States, and Europe, could help promote tourism in developing countries covered by the “Belt and Road” initiative. This, she added, would also be beneficial for those firms, as such markets would be potential revenue growth drivers for the companies.

President’s Corner

Words of advice to the new students

As we prepare for a new academic year, it is my great pleasure to welcome a new intake of students to the Institute. Selecting where to pursue undergraduate studies is one of the most significant choices one can make. Everyone at IFT understands the significance of that choice. Read More