Each year tens of thousands of tour company operators, start-up firms and industry representatives turn out for what is billed as "the largest tourism exposition in Asia". The 2015 China International Travel Mart (2015中国国际旅游交易会) gets underway November 13 in Kunming, promising three days of furious networking and conferencing concerning all things travel.
The annual event is held alternately in Shanghai and Kunming, with this year's Spring City version taking place at China's third largest conference hall, the Kunming Dianchi International Convention and Exhibition Center in southern Guandu District. The 2015 Travel Mart (CITM), functions along the same lines as Kunming's annual twin trade expos, meaning it grows in size, scope and industry importance each year.
This go-round, some 3,100 booths have been reserved by representatives from mainland China and 101 other countries. The theme of the Kunming CITM is 'Silk Road Tourism', reflecting President Xi Jinxing's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative — a development strategy which looks to place China firmly at the center of Eurasian business and commerce.
The central hall of the expo will reflect the travel expo's theme, and highlight travel destinations in Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and Xinjiang, through which the ancient Silk Road once traveled. As the host province, Yunnan travel destinations will also be featured.
Hyper popular places such as Lijiang and Dali will of course be well-represented, but dedicated pavilions focused on promoting lesser-known areas of Yunnan are promised as well. These include Dehong and Honghe, both of which expect tourism to increase mightily over the next few years as highway and rail projects bring them closer to Kunming. Another highly touted tourist route receiving special government promotion is the newly dubbed 'Kunming-Jianshui-Yuanyang corridor'.
Not simply attended by tour companies and prefectures looking for publicity, CITM will host businesses from every possible related field. These include internet marketing firms, the burgeoning car rental industry, outdoor gear merchandisers and recreational vehicle manufacturers.
No official estimates have been made regarding how many guests may pass through CITM gates. However, based on preparations, organizers expect attendance to be high. Nearly 800 volunteers have spent the last two weeks in training seminars. Once the CITM opens, they will be depended on to help lost expo attendees navigate through the labyrinth of display stalls and crowds spanning the 400,000-square meter exhibition space.
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