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May 19, 2019 marks the 9th China Tourism Day. Unlike other Chinese traditional festivals that are widely known, it is relatively new and thus might be unfamiliar.|
You might have heard of World Tourism Day though, a festival that the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has organized since 1980.
Its purpose is to raise awareness of the role tourism has played in providing a platform for collaboration and partnerships towards a more inclusive tourism sector within the international community.
After joining the UNWTO in 1983, China decided that there would be one city or municipality serving as a main venue to celebrate the occasion each year starting from 1985.
The celebrations of World Tourism Day as well as the development of tourism sector in China then led to some discussions about whether China should have such a festival of its own.
Why May 19?
The festival is very much connected to a legendary traveler in China, Xu Xiake (1587-1641), who traveled around China for more than 30 years.
Xu began writing his travel book Travel Notes of Xu Xiake in Ninghai County, east China's Zhejiang Province on May 19, 1613. The first spot he visited was Tiantai Mountain whose magnificent scenery was well recorded in his book.
Early in 2000, Ninghai County proposed to the central government to name May 19 as National Tourism Day. The date not only commemorates Xu's literary masterpiece, but the good weather in May also provides the perfect time for traveling.
Later, many other cities started to back the proposal. In 2009, nearly one million netizens took park in a poll to support the establishment of the festival and its date.
Eventually in March, 2011, the proposal was accepted at the State Council executive meeting.
Since then, on this particular day, tourist attractions in various cities offer special discounts or free admission to encourage more people to go out and enjoy the joy that travel brings.
Also, the annual festival is themed differently. Last year's theme was "All-For-One Tourism, A Better Life."
What is 'all-for-one' tourism?
The idea of "all-for-one" tourism was first introduced in the government work report in 2017 to cater to the country's growing demand for tourism products and services and facilitate economic transition.
China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) then released guidelines to develop "all-for-one" tourism demonstration zones to develop regional tourism sector by integrating tourism resources to improve tourism competitiveness and service quality.
Source: CGTN, by Cui Xingyu