The concurrent organization of the Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo and Dunhuang Tour - Silk Road International Tourism Festival has brought numerous benefits to Northwest China's Gansu province over the past three years, as they have boosted the integrated development of the cultural and tourism industries to a new height.
The expo and festival, fused into a cultural brand by the province in 2019, have become major platforms for the public to enhance pragmatic cooperation, create new plans for winning the anti-poverty fight and share outcomes with each other.
Statistics show that thanks to the two events, the number of tourists and total tourism revenues of Gansu saw an increase of 17 percent and 21.7 percent respectively during the seven-day National Day holiday last year.
In the same year, the sponsor held a promotional event to make "Three Areas and Three Prefectures" -- including Gansu's Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture and Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture of Southwest China's Sichuan province -- better known among global tourists.
Fifty cooperative agreements were reached to promote trade and exchanges among countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, which have helped to build Gansu into a powerhouse of cultural tourism. A theatrical performance gathered about 200,000 people of multiple ethnic groups to feel the charm of Silk Road culture.
During the past three years, the expo and festival organized a number of high-level forums, exhibitions, and theatrical performances to showcase Silk Road civilization and promote cultural tourism exchanges.
The BRI Forum on Cultural Exchanges and Cooperation and the Dunhuang Forum, which focus on Dunhuang studies under the Belt and Road Initiative, are the most important events during the expo and festival.
On Sept 23, 2021, a concert performance of Xuanzang's Pilgrimage, created and produced by the China National Traditional Orchestra, was staged at the Dunhuang Grand Theater.
Notably, the expo and festival have focused on the building of long-term mechanisms and exploring new approaches to further consolidate cooperation in cultural tourism and create more benefits from the implementation of the BRI.
Zhu Shanzhong, executive director of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, noted that the 2021 summit was an open and inclusive cooperation platform for the recovery of cultural tourism in the post-pandemic era.
Ahmed Eiweida, World Bank Global Coordinator for Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism, said the expo and festival have further demonstrated the Chinese government's priorities in terms of preserving cultural relics, promoting the development of cultural tourism and facilitating international cultural exchanges.
Accordingly, the expo and festival plans to work with UNESCO to hold an international forum on the conservation of world cultural heritage & sustainable development for tourism, as well as invite experts to strengthen Dunhuang and Turfan Studies and establish enterprise clubs to attract investment in Gansu. The province vows to let all of its 14 cities and prefectures contribute to and share the benefits of their cultural brand.