For the meetings, incentive travel, conventions, and exhibitions sector, Huizhou offers hotel bookers and meeting planners a new destination for travel-related activities in China.
The First Huizhou Foreign Trade Product Exhibition and Fair & Huizhou Exhibition and Convention Center Completion Ceremony was held in the newly built HECC between November 18 and 22, 2009. This was the first public appearance of the new HECC, which was built in the shape of "Yunhai Fubo" (waves floating in the clouds) with a wave shaped roof that is designed to look like floating clouds on the Dongjiang River and to appear modern and full of rhythm to show a constantly innovated Huizhou. The styling of the eaves of the building symbolizes the great prospects of Huizhou's development. The new HECC is intended not only to be a landmark building for Huizhou, but also to represent an optimistic future for the city's MICE development.
As a large and modern building that integrates exhibitions, meetings, and information exchange, HECC features a rational functional layout. It consists of an exhibition area, a meeting area, and an outdoor square providing 965 parking spaces and is served by 33 elevators. The exhibition area can hold more than 1,000 standard exhibition booths. In addition, HECC has such advanced facilities as an intelligent evacuation system, fire-fighting systems and lighting systems. In the event of a fire, the intelligent evacuation system can quickly identify the location of the fire and tell people how to evacuate to a safe place. Meanwhile, the system will determine how to deploy the sprinkler system according to the fire location, identify the fire points and put out the fire within 30 seconds. HECC also has a media center which can hold 300 people. The center provides a simultaneous interpretation system.
The completion of an advanced facility such as HECC will certainly upgrade Huizhou's MICE development. However, we can't help asking what other software facilities Huizhou has to keep up with the building of new facilities and make it more powerful in playing its role.
Following the successful 2001 International Digital Festival and Taiwan-funded Enterprise's Products Exhibition, Huizhou's hardware facilities such as transportation, exhibition halls and hotels have been improved. In addition, the city has also accumulated a lot of MICE experience to ensure the quality of exhibitions. In the meantime, Huizhou's geographic location, industry and tourism resource have provided solid foundation for developing exhibition business.
Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai are the three focii of Guangdong's exhibition business. Huizhou lies in the integrated development area of the east shore of the Pearl River centered on Shenzhen, its exhibition business is still in the initial stage, and it lags far behind of that of Shenzhen.
Located in the southeast of Guangdong province and at the northeast tip of the Pearl River Delta, Huizhou facesDaya Bay in the South China Sea and neighboring Shenzhen and Hong Kong. It is the second closest Chinese mainland city, after Shenzhen, to Hong Kong. It faces Heyuan in the north, Shanwei in the east and Dongguan and Guangzhou (it is about a one-and-a-half hour drive to Guangzhou from Huizhou) in the west. As it lies in the developed Pearl River Delta, Huizhou is well positioned to cooperate with, or reach joint promotions with other major cities in the region such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Dongguan. Huizhou can also make full use of the tourism advantages of the surrounding areas and actively integrate itself into the tourism cycle of the region.
Huizhou Airport is located in the eastern suburb of the city and can receive wide-bodied aircraft with the exception of Boeing 747s and Airbus A400s. To date, the airport runs more than a dozen routes to other Chinese cities and regular flights to major Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an.
In the first half of 2009, Huizhou saw an increase in all major economic indices despite the global economic situation. Its GDP increased by 10.4% in the period, and it ranked second in the Pearl River Delta Region. Advantageous industries greatly promote Huizhou's economic development and lay down strong foundations for the city to develop business travel and be attractive for planners of large size meetings and exhibitions.
Electronics and petrochemicals are the two pillar industries of Huizhou. Nowadays Huizhou has become a national petrochemical base for China. The CNOOC-Shell Project yields 800,000 tons of ethane annually and it expected to increase its output to one million tons at the end of 2009. CNOOC's 12-million ton oil refinery facility has been put into production and the company is now preparing to start the second phase of construction that will consist of a 10-million ton refinery and a one-million-ton ethane plant. In addition, as the first batch of national electronic bases approved by the State, Huizhou is now home to more than 1,000 electronics companies, including the four dragon-head companies of TCL, Desay, Foryou Group, and Qiaoxing Group. In addition, it has become one of the world's largest bases for the production of telephones, high efficiency and environmentally-friendly batteries, and laser diodes, one of Asia's largest centers for computer main board production, and one of China's largest sources for TV Sets, vehicle audio products, advanced electrical products and camera production.
Huizhou Is Positioned As "Five Bases"
Huizhou's economy has been advancing rapidly in recent years, following closely that of Zhongshan. With the implementation of The Reform and Development Plan for the Pearl River Delta, Huizhou has been well-grounded and has become a city of great potential in the integrated development of the Pearl River Delta region. Now it is strategically positioned as five bases: a world class petrochemical base, a national electronic information base, a clean energy production base of Guangdong province, a leisure and travel base of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, and a pilot base for rural-urban development reform of China.
Based on its development status, geographical features, industry advantages, city environment, and economic structure, Huizhou can be compared to the advanced development pattern of Shenzhen and the world's exhibition industry in the development of its MICE business. Huizhou can take advantage of its position as a national electronic information industry center and the successful experience of holding the China Huizhou International Digital Festival over the last three years to develop the brand of "China Huizhou International Digital Festival", and can also take advantage of its status as a world petrochemical base to nurture the exhibition brand of "petrochemical product world expo".
As one of the largest coastal cities in Guangdong province, Huizhou has a coast line of 263 kilometers as well as eight bays, 140 islands, and other rich coastal resources.
There are more than 900 scenic spots with extensive potential in Huizhou. All of these scenic spots feature diversified resources, integrating mountains, rivers, lakes, the sea, springs, waterfalls, forests, gullys, and islands, and combine natural views with culture sights. Among these, there are six national and provincial places of historical interest and nature reserves such as the first Mountain of Lingnan — Luo Fu Mountain, the oasis of the Tropic of Cancer — Nan Kui Shan, the oriental Hawaii — Xun Liao By, Zhu Luo Xi Zi-Huizhou West Lake, and the Marine Turtle Nature Reserve, which is said to be the only one of its kind in China. At present, Huizhou's tourism development is in a transitional period (from the initial stage to a rapid development stage) with various tourism operations becoming mature. In Guangdong province, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Foshan rank among the top tourism regimes while Dongguan, Huizhou, Zhongshan, and Shan are in the next tier.
Ideas on MICE Development
The General Plan of Tourism Development of Huizhou (revised) issued in 2008 states that the general goal of Huizhou's tourism development is to build the city into the most important leisure and travel destination and largest comprehensive travel base in the Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau region. To be more specific, a leisure travel brand will be built up and efforts will be made to develop ecological leisure travel, exhibition and business travel, and culture travel, and various travel products will be put in hand.
The philosophy of meeting and business travel development is to: focus on "meeting plus leisure travel" to make a breakthrough, forming meeting reception systems with strong local characteristics, improving high-end meeting facilities and making it a market highlight. The philosophy of product design and development is to: launch products that combine meeting with leisure travel, combine meeting with business, combine meeting with ecology, combine meeting with fitness, combine meeting with culture, and combine meeting with festivals.
With the integration of Shenzhen, Dongguan and Huizhou as a whole, Huizhou's tourism has become a highlight of the three regions. Its rich tourism resources have become a new attraction for incentive travel planners. For example, Hiuzhou's Jinhai Bay features well-preserved original flora and the only marine turtle reserve in China. With the convenient transportation and proximity to Hong Kong and Macau, it is expected to be reached from Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau within two hours. Around the Jinhai Bay, there are numerous springs and delta islands. Occasionally dolphins can be seen from fishing boats. In the bay, around 30 kilometers away, there is the Turtle Beach, the only marine turtle hatchery in mainland China. In addition to beautiful scenery Huizhou provides tasty seafood; and Autumn and winter are the best seasons for meeting guests to enjoy various kinds of authentic seafood there. In addition, the diversified and featured hotels in the region have also facilitated the development of MICE in Huizhou. These hotels can meet the various demands of customers.
The Direction of Tourism Development
The direction of Huizhou's tourism development is: focused on the Pearl River Delta region to expand the middle and long distance market; based on the Hong Kong and Macau market to develop the Japanese and Korean market; based on the leisure and holiday market to expand the exhibition and business market and further consolidate the sightseeing market. The priorities for market development are: Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macau, the neighboring provinces, and then Korea and Japan. The strategy for Huizhou's tourism development is: promoting leisure and travel; developing meeting, business, and city travel; promoting the integration of travel products and culture and ecology; and consolidating the regional sightseeing market to develop layered travel products and travel markets with clear differences and complete systems. In addition, the city will develop its tourism in an orderly manner while protecting its resources. It expects to have 10 five-star hotels and 20 four-star hotels as well as eight 4A scenic spots and five 3A scenic spots by the end of 2011.
Huizhou has made it clear that its goal for tourism development is to be "the capital of leisure and a holiday paradise" during the 11th five-year period and to spare no efforts to push the construction of the "3-5-10" program. That is: centering the three tourism system of leisure travel, culture, leisure, and exhibition and trade to create five top travel brands of coastal five-star hotel clusters, forest resorts, spring resort capital, business leisure base, and a national tourism zone; and ten excellent travel routes. These products are expected to pave way for Huizhou's MICE development and attract more customers to choose Huizhou as their meetings or events destination. Huizhou will definitely be known by more people and walk toward the "Capital of Exhibitions".
General Layout of Huizhou's Tourism Development
One center: a comprehensive tourism zone in the central city.
Three zones: a comprehensive tourism zone in the northern mountain area, a coastal leisure and holiday zone around Daya Bay, and the Yangong forest and ecological leisure zone in Huizhou.
Two belts: The Dongjiang Culture and Travel Belt and the Baili Ecological Tourism Belt
Hotels Develop Diversified MICE Products
Alfred Zhuang, the general manager of Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort, introduced the hotel's facilities to China Hospitality News. Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort covers more than 90,000 square meters and has more than 16 kilometers of white beach. It has 293 rooms and suites and a total of 1,104 square meters of meeting space, with seven different-sized meeting rooms, and an 800-square-meter pillarless and divisible ballroom with a garden and mountain view foyer on the first floor. The ceiling height is eight meters. And all the function rooms get natural light and mountain and sea views as well has having advanced audio and video system from Bose and Sennheiser and offering the Best Sheraton Service Promise. The hotel can also offer outside catering in its large garden or on the beach. It is also a member of the Starwood Preferred Planner program and guests can earn Starpoints to get free hotel nights or other perks.
Zhuang says that the MICE business is the largest segment the hotel expects to get during winter time. But from May to October, the hotel hopes it can get more volume from the retail sector as well.
In 2009 MICE generated 30% of the total revenue since the hotel's opening in June 2008. By the end of this October, Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort had already got 25% of its total revenues from MICE. According to Zhuang the global financial crisis has had little effect on the hotel's business. According to the year-to-date data the hotel has even done better in 2009 than in 2008. But it got less revenue from MICE in 2009, suggesting that the hotel was trying to get a larger market share from MICE business at the end of the year. It will try to attract more incentive groups from Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Dongguan, and Shenzhen. With regards to rates, the hotel is more flexible compared to the previous year. It has also developed more travel products to promote the destination such as the Kejia Culture Tour, Antique Town Tour, and a Wedding Package. The hotel has also developed a lot of team building activities like "Platoon", water sports, beach activities, and the special Sheraton Farm.
Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort successfully held the China Professional Model Contest in November 2009 and will continue hold this event at the end in 2010. Thanks to the excellent meeting facilities and international brand influence, hotel is the only resort in Guangdong that can hold such an event successfully.
Huizhou is an ancient city with long history and beautiful nature views. It has been selected as "The Best Travel Destination in China". It is surrounded by Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Dongguan which are all well-developed cities. So Huizhou has got a very good economic base as well. Over the last few years, the government has been paying more attention to the tourism industry, and has encouraged more and more companies to invest in Huizhou. The tourism industry in Huizhou is growing rapidly in recent years. In 2009 Huizhou achieved revenues of CNY428 million during the golden week in October and served 1.51 million people including 20,000 foreigners, indicating the city is becoming more popular these days. For MICE, Huizhou has attracted more and more large exhibitions in recent years. In November 2009 Huizhou successfully held an automobile exhibition and an international trading exhibition. The government also invests more on transportation in Huizhou which makes it easy to get to Huizhou from Shenzhen and other big cities. Huizhou has witnessed an aggressive growth of the tourism industry. Because of the stunning views and easy access by expressway, Xunliao became a popular MICE travel destination in Huizhou.
Tourism Resources Enrich MICE Activities
Huang Hui, the deputy secretary-general of Guangdong Self-drive Association and the general manager of Guangzhou Gongsheng Network Technology Service Co., Ltd, would organize four or five business tours to Huizhou each year. Huizhou has abundant tourism resources, and most tourists come from Pearl River Delta while self-drive tourists account for 70% of the total number. In addition, corporate clients like to choose Huizhou as their MICE and team-building destination.
Business guests, can enjoy local tourism resources after meetings and business events. For example, Luofu Mountain is a well-known destination for powered parachutes and paragliders in Guangdong province; meanwhile it is also the seventh cave-heaven and the 34th blessed land of traditional Taoism. The Huanglong Taoist Temple on the mountain is the largest of its kind in south China. Besides teambuilding activities, corporate clients can also experience the culture and history of Huizhou. Nankun Mountain is another travel and leisure resort in Huizhou. Together with Nankun Mountain Hot Spring Grand View Garden at the foot of the mountain, it is an ecotourism route where guests can enjoy mountain views in the daytime and take a spa at night. Surrounded by mountains, it is the right place for a summer resort and hot springs.
Star-rated hotels have also been developing fast in recent years, along with the improvement of hotel services. Enterprises in petrochemical and electronic industries are the main client sources for high-end hotels, which have offered proper travel, spa, and teambuilding venue for business clients. Huang Hui believes the rich tourism resources of Huizhou such as Garbotax Golf Country Club can also enrich the activities of business clients. Of all the hotels Huang has ever stayed in, Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort and Nankun Mountain Hot Spring Grand View Garden are among the best in terms of environment and services, being places for relaxing the body and mind.
Traffic Improvements Help Expand Huizhou's MICE Market
Hua Xi, the general manager of the Bank of China Shenzhen Branch's Treasury Department, believes the business value of Huizhou is increasing in recent years. As a member of the developed Pearl River Delta, Huizhou boasts great advantages in regional cooperation with Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, and other cities in the Delta. Being part of the Pearl River Delta tourism circle can be of great help to develop Huizhou's tourism industry.
Hua Xi is quite familiar with Huizhou's tourism resources. He strongly recommends Dongjiang River as the must-go destination. Besides the mountain and river view in daytime, it is also a special experience to take the Dongjiang No. 1 cruise at night. One can see the Hejiang Attic, Wenbi Tower, Chaojingmen Gate Tower and Dongjiang Park decorated by colored lights, and the Dongjiang Bridge, Huizhou Bridge, Hesheng Bridge, Dongxin Bridge, and Shuimen Bridge across the river. Hotels are also ready to welcome business clients with suitable meeting venues and dedicated services. Hua specially mentioned Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort for its up-to-standard Sheraton Service Promise and its Huizhou characteristics.
Though Huizhou has its special and unique tourism resources, having only two highways has limited the number of tourists. This will however be improved soon. According to the government program, by the end of the eleventh five-year plan, Huizhou's highway mileage will have increased to 850 kilometers from the current 278 kilometers. When the Huida Shugang Highway finishes, Huizhou will have a highway network of five transverse and three longitudinal highways, making the city more reachable. By then, Huizhou will be a favorable destination for corporate clients' MICE and team-building activities.