Shandong Not Just Stuff of Legends

Zhang Mingchi, Deputy Director General of Shandong Tourism Development Commission tells us how Shandong is creating awareness in the Indian market to welcome more Indian tourists.

NOT MUCH has been discovered about this eastern Chinese province on the Yellow Sea, known for its Taoist and Confucian heritage when it comes to tourist destination like Shandong. Steeped in natural landscape, historical and cultural relics, it is no less in heritage and diverse culture than itsneighbouring country, India. Hence, theTourism Development Commission feels the need to attract more India tourists in the coming season. “India with large population and diverse culture is also an emerging tourist generating country with huge outbound potentials. With direct flights between Shandong (Jinan & Qingdao) and India (New Delhi) and creating awareness in the Indian market for the tourists, we hope to welcome more Indian tourists in the coming years,” says Mingchi.

However, many Indians travelled to Shandong last year and according to Mingchi, “India is one of our new and evolving markets; last year we received around 33,000 Indian tourists and for us India ranks 6th on the Asian source market list.”

Shandong has a great capacity to accommodate both small and large MICE groups. The province owns more than 920 grade hotels. Among them there are around 30 five star hotels, 149 four star hotels and 488 three star hotels. Moreover, Shandong owns more than 40 international exhibition centres with the overall indoor exhibition area of 12,23,791 sq mts. Shandong province has four World Cultural Heritage spots and other scenic attractions.

Mingchi feels that the year 2017 has fortunately been very active for Shandong. “For the first time we collaborated with local travel agents and travel trade companies to promote Shandong. We were part of OTM which was held early this year in Mumbai. We also invited about 20 Indian travel agents to Shandong for familiarization trip in April.  Moreover, we will invite Indian professional shooting team to Shandong to film special program and telecast the content on the travel channels of India,” adds Mingchi who is expecting the board to visit India in November and promote the destination.

But food and language could be the two biggest challenges that the Indian travellers could face. “Although Shandong Cuisine is one of the top cuisines in China with great varieties, the Indian tourists may prefer traditional Indian food. Currently, there are a few Indian restaurants in Shandong in big cities like Jinan and Qingdao. However, with the increasing number of Indian tourists, we are certain that there will be more and more choices for our Indian guests,” he says.

About language, though English is not an official language of the country, hence Mingchi feels that the Indian guest might find a bit of inconvenience when touring by themselves without any tour guide. “Most of the representatives at major attractions, restaurants and shopping malls know basic English and hence to overcome this challenge the tourism board is currently in the process to train the staff so that communication is not a barrier for the tourists.”

With a hope to double up the tourist number from India this year, Shandong tourism’s key MICE travellers include company reward tours, sport events such as marathon and motorcade events and large scale international exhibitions.

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