By Bukola Ogunsina, Sichuan, China
The Deputy Director, Commission of Promotion of Tourism of Sichuan Province, Cui Hong, has disclosed that Sichuan will be hosting the 22nd UN World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) General Assembly this year 2017. The event will take place in the Province’s capital of Chengdu, with representatives from over 70 countries in attendance. This he said while Sichuan government officials hosted African journalists and participants of the China Africa Press Centre (CAPC) 2017 programme in Chengdu.
“It’s the first UN Assembly to be held in the Western part of China,” he said. Its campaign launched in Berlin is themed ‘Beautiful China, More Than Pandas’, to show the world that China has a lot more to offer than the beautiful bears. Cui also disclosed that later this year September, 2017, the Province will host the Sichuan International Travel Expo.
“Eighty percent of giant pandas of the world live in Sichuan. Sichuan cuisine is one of the three Chinese dishes, each one having its own unique characteristics. The province is listed as the city of gastronomy by UNESCO,” Cui said, adding that Sichuan is also known for the ancient Shu civilisation dating back to 4,500 years ago. A multi ethnic province, it is the second largest habitation for Tibetans.
A researcher at the department of Development and Reform Commission Mrs Kan Zelan said, “Sichuan is a prototype of China. It covers vast expanse of land with a large population… prior to the open up and reform policy of China, Sichuan ranked 6th for its economic volume. Preceding the country’s opening up, coastal areas were first to be developed, Sichuan was left behind. However with a rapid development rate, Sichuan has made progress in various sectors to include transportation.”
Today she said, Sichuan has 9 railways, 17 express roads and one water way leading out of the Province. Presently, Sichuan is focusing on development in areas such as; electrical, mechanical industry among others, as well as soliciting for IT industries such as Intel to settle in Chengdu.
On his part, the Deputy Director of the Protocol and Information Division, Provincial Department of Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs, Mr Xiao Yonggang spoke of Sichuan’s relations globally, stating that the Province sent its first medical group in 1976 to Mozambique, and in 2002 became a sister city with South Africa.
According to reports of government officials, Sichuan has established relationships with 11 countries. Its exports are mainly electrical, mechanic, textile and steel materials. Sichuan’s overseas direct investment is estimated at 100 with investment volume reaching 1.56 million US dollars.
With a population of about 91 million, Sichuan is known for its rare species and biodiversity, tagged, ‘land of abundance,’ with a GDP surpassing 3.2 trillion Yuan in 2016.