UNWTO Silk Road Programme represented at 3rd Maritime Silk Road (Fuzhou) International Tourism Festival, China

UNWTO Silk Road Programme represented at 3rd Maritime Silk Road (Fuzhou) International Tourism Festival, China
The Maritime Silk Road (Fuzhou) International Tourism Festival took place on 19-20 November 2017. The Festival was established in 2015 to connect ASEAN, Taiwan and China mainland. It promotes exchange and cooperation between countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road. The 2017 event involved more than 300 tour operators and journalists from over 30 countries. The attendance included CNTA, PATA and consular representatives from Singapore and the Philippines as well as senior officials from tourism departments of Australia (Tasmania), Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. In addition, representatives from the coastal provinces of China’s MSR Tourism Promotion Alliance took part.
On day 1, the Opening Ceremony took place in Fuzhou’s Straits Exhibition Centre, followed by the Domestic and Foreign Travel Agent Procurement Conference. In the afternoon the Maritime Silk Road International Tourism Summit was held at the State Rock Museum in Fuzhou’s famous Three Lanes and Seven Alleys. 
UNWTO’s consultant, Mr Robert Travers delivered the keynote address on the Tourism potential of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. This ongoing innovative UNWTO Exploratory Research on the Tourism Impact of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road refers to the Maritime Silk Road as a fundamental link between the East and the West and a vehicle for the exchange of cultures, art, religion, craft, ideas and technologies.  The Maritime Silk Road comprises an extensive network of maritime itineraries, offering exceptional experiences, heritage and culture, which tourism potential still needs to be discovered and enhanced. This first-in-a-kind Research aims at revitalizing ancient Maritime Silk Road routes and diversifying the thematic tourism product. The current research takes into account the potential impacts of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on tourism.
In his speech Mr Robert Travers stressed that in a globalized age travel patterns and interests have changed:  “Experience Economy”, “Experiential Travel” and “Authentic Experience” make reference to the fact that people seek experiences outside the norm – a distinctive touch that Maritime Silk Road destinations can provide. The Maritime Silk Road thematic route does indeed have a potential to enhance abilities to promote the unique attributes of its destinations. The Route offers a cultural experience, where the visitor feels a personal engagement with the theme.  By joining strengths and collaborating, Maritime Silk Road destinations have a potential to create a new and unified product – the Maritime Silk Road travel experience: a nautical tourism route that goes beyond individual destinations. 
Following the summit, delegates visited the new Zheng He Maritime Museum within the Three Lanes and Seven Alleys heritage site.
On Day 2 delegates experienced some of Fuzhou’s stunning mountain scenery and its famous hot springs. A visit to a jasmine tea factory was also organised. Jasminum sambac (Arabian jasmine) has travelled the Silk Roads over land and sea. The plant is native to the high Himalayas, and was beloved in ancient Persia (Iran); from there it reached China, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is said to have been brought to the port of Fuzhou in China during the Western Han period (206 BCE to 24 CE) as part of a tribute to the Emperor. In Fuzhou province the unique process of making jasmine tea was developed. High quality green tea is steeped in jasmine flowers repeatedly so that the aroma of jasmine infuses the tea. This lengthy process is repeated between four and nine times.The whole process was explained for delegates at the Fujian Chunlun factory who sampled this unique product of the historic Maritime Silk Road.
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