Tourism featuring ASEAN cultures heats up in border region

Updated: Aug 15, 2022 China Daily Print
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South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, as the frontier of exchanges and cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has offered an exotic taste featuring ASEAN cultures for tourists.

Due to geographical proximity and cultural affinity, a strong atmosphere of cross-border cultural exchanges and integration between China and ASEAN has formed in Guangxi over the years.

In Nanning, the capital of Guangxi, it is not unusual to see Thai restaurants, Indonesian snack bars, Vietnamese specialty shops and various shops with Southeast Asian elements.

Fantawild Asian Legend, a theme park in Nanning showcasing the cultures of 10 ASEAN countries, has specific entertainment programs, such as a water splashing festival and a fireworks show, during the summer.

Tourists can watch a performance showing off local customs, folk galas of Southeast Asian countries, and even appreciate the magnificent scenery of ASEAN countries in a cinema equipped with a giant hemispherical screen.

Jon Aquino, an Indonesian student from Guangxi Minzu University, is impressed by the Indonesian and Thai-style buildings and Indonesian song and dance performance.

"I really want to join the dance," he says.

Namdet On Anong, a Thai teacher at Guangxi University of Foreign Languages, loves the park's high-tech ride based on the Thai Ramakien, the National Epic of Thailand.

"Technology really empowers cultural tourism. We sit on the dynamic rail car and can easily relate to this story. Many Chinese tourists around me were also attracted to the charm of Thai culture," Namdet On Anong says.

"It feels like I'm back in my hometown. It's very warm and makes me miss home."

Lu Xiaoli from Guangdong province brought her family to take a special photo at Cambodia's Angkor Wat in the park, along with other landmarks from Southeast Asian countries, as the pandemic has made overseas traveling difficult.

"The park uses technology to give tourists a better experience, which is like a mini trip to those countries," she says.

Hu Yang, marketing director of Fantawild, says this year's tourist rush has come earlier than usual, as the daily visitor volume has exceeded 10,000, and daily reception of out-of-town tour groups has reached more than 30.

"Tourism innovation has become even more important. The industry should pay more attention to high-tech application, integration with other platforms, and update and enrich tourism products through technical means to meet the needs of different groups," says Huang Yanling, deputy dean of College of Tourism and Landscape Architecture of Guilin University of Technology.

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