by Melanie Vine
May 31st, 2016

Ian Rumsby, Chair, Weber Shandwick Australia and Chair, Strategy and Marketing Services, Weber Shandwick Asia Pacific, recently took to the podium at Beijing’s Kunlun Hotel as part of the inaugural International Forum of Tourism Communications. Organised by the Tourism Communication Research Centre at the Communication University of China, the event brought together tourism and communications professionals from around Asia Pacific and beyond.

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During his speech, Mr. Rumsby discussed a number of key topics shaping China’s tourism industry, and outlined Weber Shandwick’s research into the increasingly important realm of city branding and communications.

This included key takeaways from Weber Shandwick’s Engaging Cities thought leadership report – which explores the role of soft power, that is, those attributes of city brand reputation beyond politics and economics – across major cities in Asia Pacific. He also addressed the means through which soft power might help tourism bureaus across China. In particular, Mr. Rumsby analysed the challenges facing both Beijing and Shanghai, and emphasised the need for each to not only adopt a distinct and multifaceted identity, but also to explore ways to celebrate and project the unique elements of the cities’ neighbourhoods.

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“Neighbourhoods are the suburbs, boroughs and towns within a city, the culture-clusters that showcase the unique and diverse attributes of a city to residents and non-residents,” said Mr. Rumsby. “They are the foundation of the stories people will share about cities, and one of the very best forms of targeted marketing – strengthening reputations and creating something that tourists have the opportunity to better connect with.”

Mr. Rumsby also discussed China’s perception in the United States, and drawing on Weber Shandwick’s Chinese Cities in the Eyes of American Tourists report (conducted with Linkex), explained how visual representation across art and media had the potential to support Chinese cities in their quest to attract more visitors.

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Attendees were provided with a practical City Playbook – guidelines from Engaging Cities – that cities can use to build their brand. In addition to embracing unique neighbourhoods, these five areas of focus include identity, citizen advocacy, creative classes and people power.

With China’s influence and significance growing exponentially, focusing on these guidelines will become ever more relevant as civic leaders strive to advance reputations at home and abroad.

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