All over the world, cities have established partnerships with Chinese cities, sometimes called “twin towns”, “sister cities”, “partner towns” or “friendship towns”. Many such city partnerships are not used at all, often initiated by the visit of a delegation led by the mayor every couple of years is the only visible activity. However, especially in relation with China and Chinese outbound tourism city or regional partnerships can be leveraged as a powerful tool to generate not only leisure tourism, but also exchanges of sport teams, entrepreneurs and investors, administrators, teachers and pupils, chefs, or even event-based travel. With such special activities as festivals and sports tournaments, visits can be generated that last not just a few hours, but for a couple of days. Once an annual partnership event or a summer camp for young football players or a regular exchange of food, drinks and chefs is established, it becomes easier to generate regular visits without needing additional marketing and advertisement. For the Chinese partner, the signed agreement will guarantee that such activities are politically correct. Furthermore, the fact that the partnerships were entered to demonstrate “China friendliness” of the city, remains an important argument for Chinese visitors. In China there is an official nationwide organisation for city partnerships, called the CIFCA China International Friendship Cities Association.
Relying on the city partnership is vital to continue global tourism partnerships, especially for smaller destinations which cannot rely on major sights alike Shanghai and Beijing. In China almost all international travellers are living in cities, the international tourism organisation which was started by China in 2013 is called the WTCF World Tourism Cities Federation. For DMOs on all levels, it is advisable to either start to use existing city or regional partnership with China more actively for the promotion of the destination as a tourist destination especially for special interest travel. If no partnership exists on this level, contacts between local and Chinese universities or bigger local companies and their Chinese trading partners can be used as a starting point to create a city partnership.
The text above is a peek into the online training programme CTT China Tourism Training Destinations, which COTRI just published in cooperation with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel and Tourism Management. More details and much more insights and Best Practice examples from around the world are provided along with a verified university certificate for successful participants. We are very proud of this new tool and to help destinations around the world increase the level of success and satisfaction of visitors. You are certainly welcome to use it yourself.
Have a successful and peaceful week!
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team