If you want to experience the charms of cities along the Grand Canal and the ancient Silk Road, the third Grand Canal Culture and Tourism Expo, which is being held in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, is a good place to start.
On Wednesday evening, the third expo kicked off in the 2,500-year-old city of Suzhou, known as "Venice of the Orient" for its abundant waterways.
With the theme of "integration, innovation and sharing", the expo provides a platform for the development of culture and tourism, related products and the sharing of the lifestyles of people living in canal cities.
Sponsored by the Publicity Department of the CPC Jiangsu Provincial Committee, the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, the Jiangsu Provincial Foreign Affairs Office, the Jiangsu Provincial Administration of Sports, the Jiangsu Provincial Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the Suzhou city government, the expo also aims to promote cultural and tourism exchanges and cooperation between countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Yang Zhichun, director of the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, says that the beauty of the Grand Canal should be publicized and its charm should be able to be appreciated by more people.
"Jiangsu province has been an open and friendly place since ancient times," says Yang. "The province has held an annual session of the Grand Canal Expo since 2019.
"One of our purposes is to establish a platform for international and domestic canal cities to carry out cultural exchanges, spread their cultures and share their canal stories."
The expo has been held both online and offline. A total of 19 activities in six themed exhibitions are being held at the Suzhou International Expo Center.
The six exhibitions include the canal cities' cultural and tourism boutique exhibition, the canal's intangible cultural heritage and a food exhibition.
At the boutique exhibition, visitors can enjoy the world cultural heritage of the canal, such as ancient towns, relics, tourist routes and specialties with local characteristics.
The canal's characteristic tourism appeal, consisting of five sections, shows how to choose vacation sites, scenic spots, tourism equipment and the best routes.
At the international exhibition, titled The Encounter of the Silk Road and Canal, visitors can experience the exoticism of the famous trade route without having to go abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Occupying an area of 3,865 square meters, the exhibition is located at Hall E3 of the Suzhou International Expo Center. More than 30 countries with connections to the ancient Silk Road are participating in the exhibition.
The countries have decorated their exhibition zones using the colors of their respective national flags and the characteristics of their famous architecture, clearly demonstrating their unique cultures and local customs.
On Wednesday afternoon, a meeting to promote the cultural tourism themed "the water charm of Jiangsu" was held at Suzhou Tantai Lake Hotel.
More than 60 consuls general in Shanghai, representatives of overseas offices in China and foreign friends from several countries, such as Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, attended the meeting to promote canal tourism.
The expo will be held in Suzhou until Saturday. The first Grand Canal Culture and Tourism Expo was held in Yangzhou in 2019, while the second was held in Wuxi and Huai'an in 2020.