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World Cities Branding Conference took place in China’s Macao

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World Cities Branding Conference opens in China’s Macao

The first World Cities Branding Conference was initiated and organized by the Organizing Committee of the World Cities Branding Conference, and co-hosted by the World Tourism Economy Research Center.

MACAO – The 2023 World Cities Branding Conference opened at the MGM Cotai in Macao, China, on July 3. Government officials, industry experts and guest speakers across the world exchanged views on city branding, cultural exchanges, tourism and sustainable urban development. The conference was founded to support Chinese cities to build their branding and find new growth momentum in the cultural and tourism sector. The event also unveiled the 2023 Great Wall Award – Culture & Tourism Branding Award, with the trending BBQ of Zibo City in Shandong Province winning the gold medal, among 50 outstanding cases of the year.

The first World Cities Branding Conference was initiated and organized by the Organizing Committee of the World Cities Branding Conference, and co-hosted by the World Tourism Economy Research Center. Phoenix New Media organized the event. MGM was also the chief partner and the official venue provider. And HONDA INSPIRE was the goodwill partner.

The conference is supported by the Macao Government Tourism Office and Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute. China Advertising Association and Communication University of China School of Advertisement, along with many other research institutes, join hands in developing this world-level international forum focusing on branding for cultural and tourism industries.

Lei Wai Nong, Representative of the Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region and the Secretary for Economy and Finance of the Macao SAR government; Pansy Ho, Chairman of the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre and Group Executive Chairman and Managing Director of Shun Tak Holdings Limited; Yang Hao, Deputy Director of the Economic Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao SAR.; Vincent U U Sang, President of Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute; Sun Yusheng, Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of Phoenix Media Investment (Holdings) Limited and Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix New Media Limited; Zhang Guohua, President of China Advertising Association and Vice President of International Advertising Association; and Ding Junjie, Professor of Communication University of China and Director of the National Institute of Advertising, attended and spoke at the conference. Kenneth Feng, President, Strategic and CFO of MGM, also joined the event.

H.E. Mr. Arthayudh Srisamoo, Ambassador of Thailand to China; H.E. Mr. Alain Wong, Ambassador of Mauritius to China; H.E. Mr.John Busuttil, Ambassador of Malta to China; Patrick Nijs, Former Ambassador of Belgium to China; and Souad Zaidi, General Secretary of the Moroccan Association of mayors and Former Member of Moroccan Parliament; Robert Govers, Founding Chairman of the International Place Branding Association (IPBA); John D Chacko, Global VP of International Advertising Association and Chairman of IAA World Congress 2024 also attended and spoke at the event.

Wu Hongbo, Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Honorary President of China International Public Relations Association; Hae-Guk HWANG, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at the World Tourism Organization, and Shan Jixiang, Chairman of the China Cultural Relics Academy and Former Director of the Palace Museum, also gave video speeches at the opening ceremony.

During the two-day conference, experts from across the world spoke at the event and shared their insights, including Denis Bax, Chief of the Communication, Cities and Events (CCE) Unit and Secretary of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network; David Aaker, the Vice-Chair of Prophet Consulting Firm; Zhang Hui, Member of the “14th Five-Year Plan” National Development Planning Expert Committee of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Deputy Director of the Expert Committee of World Tourism Cities Federation; Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director of Macao Government Tourism Office; Ouyang Changlin, Director of the Live Streaming Committee of CTAA and The former president of Hunan Broadcasting System; Robert Govers, Founding Chairman of the Internationa Place Branding Association (IPBA); Ray Ng, Executive Chairman of The Industry and Commerce Association of Macau; Ji Xiaodong, President of the China Chamber of Tourism (CCT); Prof. Wu Bihu from Peking University; and Yang Jie, Vice Chairman of Beijing ByteDance Charity Foundation.

Lei Wai Nong, Representative of the Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region and the Secretary for Economy and Finance of the Macao SAR government, said the founding of the World Cities Branding Conference is important, as this platform is key for cities across the world to exchange ideas, empower global engagement and promote people-to-people exchanges, to explore new opportunities. He added that the traditionally strong-branded cities need to speed up on urban renewal, working together with emerging cities, and share development opportunities.

Pansy Ho, the Chairman of the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre and Group Executive Chairman and Managing Director of Shun Tak Holdings Limited, expressed her aspirations during her speech. She emphasized the importance of Chinese cultural and tourism brands showcasing their exceptional qualities on a global platform, with the ultimate goal of becoming internationally recognized brands. Furthermore, she shared valuable insights regarding the Global Tourism Economy Forum, a global forum that she initiated in Macao, which has served as a pivotal platform for the global cultural and tourism industry to gain a deeper understanding of the authentic China over the past decade.

Sun Yusheng, Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of Phoenix Media Investment (Holdings) Limited and Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix New Media Limited said as China undergoes urbanization, Chinese cities shall figure out their very own characteristics and charisma. Sun said he hoped Phoenix Satellite TV and Phoenix New Media can play their unique roles in helping cities shape their branding.

At the conference, two academic reports were launched, including the China Area Branding Value Report, presented by Prof. Ding Junjie of Communication University of China, also Director of the National Institute of Advertising, and the 2023 World Cities Branding Index Report, jointly presented by Zhang Tingting, Executive Chairman of the World Cities Branding Conference, also the Director of the Tourism Communication Research Center of the Advertising School at the communication university of China, and Scott Chen, Managing Director of Brand Finance China. The index covers 7 pillars including commercial and trade, livability, cultural heritage, people’s values, sustainability & transportation accessibility, governance, and education & science.

Industry experts, government officials also joined a series of high-level round-table dialogues featuring a variety of topics, including “Promoting mutual cultural learning through city branding”, “Building the soft power of sustainable development of world cities with brands”, “Innovate Macao’s cultural and tourism brand by content creation”, “World-level tourism cities branding development and communication”, “Youth design and city development”, “Opportunities and challenges for high-quality development of China’s county culture and tourism”, “Building Lushan as a world-class tourism destination”, “City creativity and international communication”, etc.

Among these forums, government officials from Zhangjiakou City of Hebei Province, and Lushan City of Jiangxi Province, Tahe County of Heilongjiang Province, and Argara of Morocco shared their insights and experiences about on how to build good city branding at a panel discussion moderated by Xu Yue, co-initiator of the World Cities Branding Conference and Director of Culture and Tourism Communication at Phoenix New Media.

On July 4, a forum themed “MGM Dialogue: Rediscover the Value of Macao” focused on the branding development of Macao and the city’s culture and tourism industry development, with experts from across sectors sharing their opinions. Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director of Macao Government Tourism Office, said it is important to explore effective marketing and communication campaigns to allow more tourists and general public from across the world to learn and understand the wonderfulness and uniqueness of Macao, a world-renowned tourism destination.

Phoenix New Media also launched a brand new IP “Let the World Fall in Love with Chinese Cities”. The initiative will work with over 100 Chinese cities to better showcase their culture and tourism branding and offerings to the world, on the platforms of the Phoenix media and social platforms.

The event also unveiled the gold, silver and bronze awards for the Annual Good Culture and Tourism Award, a special selection of the renowned Great Wall Award. This was the first ranking of top 50 outstanding cases by the conference, covering 5 areas of best cases for branding communication and campaigns.

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