Traveling 'Beijing Day' events deepen attendees' awareness of city's charm, Yuan Shenggao reports.
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development held a picture show in Podgorica, capital of Montenegro, in mid-September to showcase the Chinese capital's charm, sparking a new craze among local residents.
The event aimed to promote Beijing's reputation and influence in Montenegro, and to inspire locals to visit, the organizers said.
With the theme of retracing the Silk Road and discovering the new Beijing, the exhibition consisted of three sections featuring the capital's history, modernity and culture, respectively.
The vivid pictures depicted a multifaceted Eastern city that combines ancient appeal and modern fashion, and helped visitors to better understand Beijing.
The event grabbed the headlines in local media because it attracted a throng of visitors.
The event took place on the opening day of a mayors forum on Sept 15, when delegates from China and Central and Eastern Europe discussed issues of green development and governments' role in creating a business-friendly environment. So, the picture show also enjoyed high popularity with the forum's participants.
As a country involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, Montenegro is rich in tourism resources.
The initiative was proposed by China in 2013 to increase international exchanges via the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Since then, China and Montenegro have made breakthroughs in their tourism cooperation.
Starting in mid-April, the European country on the southwestern Balkan Peninsula has exempted Chinese tourist agencies from visa applications for group tours, as the two sides signed an agreement on tourism market access.
After the visa-free policy, the partnership between the tourism communities in the two countries is expected to grow stronger and closer under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Both sides have expressed keen interest, and conditions for the collaboration are becoming increasingly mature, industrial insiders said.
Following the picture show in Montenegro, neighboring Serbia celebrated Beijing Day in the country's capital Belgrade on Sept 16.
It was the first Beijing Day in Belgrade, said its Mayor, Sinisa Mali.
"I believe that the event will further enhance the mutual understanding, cooperation and friendship of the two cities," Mali said. "It will help residents of Belgrade better understand the charming city of Beijing and the life of people there."
Acting Mayor of Beijing Chen Jining said the two became sister cities in 1980, and Belgrade is the first sister city of Beijing in Europe.
Chen said he hopes Beijing Day will bring joy to local people, and help more of them to better understand the Chinese capital's culture and people.
The two mayors, joined by local residents, visited a picture and intangible cultural heritage exhibition called Charming Beijing, a major part of the promotional event.
Time-honored brands from Beijing displayed their signature products and caught the attention of visitors.
They included century-old shoes manufacturer Neiliansheng, silk and cloth store Ruifuxiang, tea trader Wuyutai, bean curd producer Wangzhihe, Baihua honey, and Tongrentang, a renowned pharmaceuticals provider focusing on traditional Chinese medicine, which was founded in 1669.
Peking Opera masks, porcelain and traditional handicrafts including red Chinese knots, which are a traditional decoration representing blessings and wishes, were also popular with local residents.
Visitors were invited to join in Peking Opera mask painting and experience traditional Beijing culture.
On Beijing Day, the cities signed seven cooperation agreements in various fields, such as publication, symphony orchestra performances and library exchanges.
Other events included an industrial fair, a youth ice hockey competition, a Chinese film festival and a concert staged by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra.
Zhao Guangchao, an official at the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development, briefed the audience about Beijing's tourism resources in healthcare, education, conferences and exhibitions, and sports events during the industrial fair.
Later, Zhao told local media that he hopes the promotional event will enable Serbian people to have a deeper understanding of and fall in love with Beijing, and help to tap into the potential of the country's outbound tourism market.
The Charming Beijing event also visited Copenhagen, Denmark in August, introducing the Chinese capital's wealth of tourism resources to local residents.
In mid-June, Beijing Week took place during the World Expo in Astana, Kazakhstan, offering a cultural feast.
Data from the Beijing commission show that the city received more than 1 million visits from Europe in 2016. The number stood at 479,000 in the first half of this year.
The intensive promotion program is part of the wider efforts to prepare for China-EU Tourism Year in 2018, which was designated at the China-EU Business Summit in July 2016.
The move will provide development opportunities, according to Lowri Evans, director-general of the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs at the European Commission.
She made the comments at a news conference in 2016, adding that one-fifth of overseas visitors to China were from European Union countries in 2015 and that a growing number of Chinese tourists opt for Europe as their destination.
The European Travel Commission expects more Chinese tourists to travel around Europe and wishes to see an increasing number of European visitors experience China's unique charm, China National Radio cited her as saying.
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