PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay – A welcome event was held on Thursday in the Uruguayan coastal resort city of Punta del Este for more than 3,000 participants registered for the three-day China-LAC Summit, the host nation’s tourism minister told EFE.
Liliam Kechichian received the guests during the opening gala at the Ralli Museum in Punta del Este, which is the country’s leading tourist resort and, according to the minister, the “most important in Latin America.”
Guests were treated to live music and a variety of cuisine during the gathering at the museum, which houses numerous paintings and sculptures.
“We (at the Tourism Ministry) have long understood how important our meat, wine, flavors and aromas are in terms of our country brand (Uruguay Natural),” Kechichian said, referring to the delicacies being served at the event.
In that regard, she said the welcome gala also was an opportunity to demonstrate what Punta del Este has to offer.
Referring to China’s importance for the South American country, the minister said surveys show that a mere 3 percent of Uruguay’s population sees a relationship with the Asian giant as something negative.
“By a wide margin, Uruguayans want our country to build strong ties with China,” she said, noting that the diplomatic relationship will turn 30 next year.
In that regard, she said her country “will continue to create opportunities” for its inhabitants “if it opens up to the world.”
One of the Tourism Ministry’s priorities is to attract Chinese tourists, according to Kechichian, who said her portfolio is in talks with Mexican airline AeroMexico to establish a direct air route between Montevideo and Mexico City.
That would facilitate Uruguay’s links to Asia and help it in particular to draw more tourists from China, which in 2020 will become the world’s leading source of outbound travelers and also the planet’s biggest tourist destination, the minister said.
The business summit, which will run until Saturday, is an opportunity to showcase Uruguay as a country with solid institutions that is open to trade and has cutting-edge projects, the country’s authorities say.
The event, which will be held at the Punta del Este Convention & Exhibition Center, a 5,600-sq.-meter (60,200-sq.-foot) venue, will feature 150 stands and welcome participants from 140 countries.
The 2017 edition of China-LAC, the main business meeting linking China, Latin America and the Caribbean, will include plenary and parallel sessions and technical visits, while activities will fall under one of five categories: infrastructure, food safety and agribusiness, logistics and renewable energy, e-commerce and cities, and global services.