Silk Road map. There are six roads based very much on the traditional routes but extended them. And there is something very new about this, called a maritime road. It’s a contradiction in terms of maritime road, but if you think and look at much of the trade, it now goes by sea. And therefore, a large amount particularly of very heavy goods and very special goods can not be taken by air. And therefore, they are taken by sea. So the maritime road is important. And I think also what you find this idea of silk road map is important, because it concentrates on the geographic area, it covers what was the original silk road.
And this has much details that we don’t have time to go into, but you think the silk road consists of 6 roads together with maritime road. Each road contains a huge diversity of countries in relation to stages of development, infrastructure needs and availability, and investment for advance. Just look at Asia, and look at the relative levels of development in different countries, look at the needs for infrastructure to develop regional connectivity, and look at the needs to share expertise. So these countries then offer a great variety in terms of economic development and economic challenges. And much of these development is actually deficient in the infrastructure. Railways are poor.
Connectivity between countries is poor, often frustrated by things like export barriers, trade barriers, and of course visas. But if you look at the 60 countries in this belt, if you look at them, the diversity for tourism is enormous. Each country can offer something different. And this attempts to actually look at the various (situations), so when you start again I can continue. Why? Because of the diversity in the nature of countries diversity, in culture diversity, in traditions political diversity, then there are enormous opportunities for research into tourism. And I think this potential is something which individuals explore, and of course teams, because they are interested in particular aspect of it. That is heritage.
Some may say conservation, others might say, I am much more interested in environmental aspect of it. But really when you look at it, one of the big challenge I think particular for university researchers is the need to create clusters of researchers. So for example, looking at this map, then we see there are six roads, it’s quite possible to get a cluster of people working together who specialize on each of these particular roads. So in that cluster, you might have a economist, you might have a sociologist, you might have someone that’s interested in environment, you might have someone who’s interested in culture.
And what you try to do then is to concentrate on that particular route, and analyze its potential for tourism, look at how tourism has developed, what its problems are, and in which way will the development of the belt and road be able to increase the infrastructure investment, which will then increase connectivity. And with connectivity, then we are come back to one of the fundamental aspect of tourism is that how do we mark it, what we have to a potential market to a potential tourist. And it is that symbiosis between demand and supply which will actually be very important. But it seems from some university perspective.
What should be done is to develop these teams or these clusters, whichever would you prefer, who can specialize in one of those particular roads, and then become a source of qualified and respected information. And studies which then could help both government and the implementation of the policy, and also generate further research opportunities. It’s no doubt to talk if you look at this. It is something which is going to have enormous impact for tourism, because when we talk of connectivity, we tend to think about trade. But remember tourism is a trade in people, it’s one of the most dynamic aspects of the world economy.
And that is becoming easier to drive to neighboring countries to take the train to neighboring countries, when you know the infrastructure has been improved and this will have great benefits for trade, but it’s also open up tremendous benefits for tourism. So one of the things about the Belt and Road Initiative is that it can be seen as a foreign policy initiative, and as a Chinese trade initiative, and as a means of increasing Chinese influence on a global basis. All of these things but from our perspective, tourism, it provides a great opportunity for research, for development and not just theoretical research but research which would allow us to feed back into policy and planning.
So the belt and road initiative is without any doubt visionary. I think in tourism we need to also be visionary in deciding how to take advantage of this opportunity. Thank you very much for listening.