When the curtain went up on the Youth Summer Olympic Games in Nanjing in 2014, the world sat up and took notice – and not just because the opening ceremony was so spectacular.
The games were primarily a chance to recognise the skill and dedication of the athletes of the future. But they were also an opportunity for Nanjing to unveil itself as one of the top destinations in Asia for event tourism, from sporting competitions to large business conferences to smaller meetings.
An international spotlight was put on the city in an unprecedented way, and both Nanjing and its residents put on a memorable show that transformed the capital of China’s eastern Jiangsu province into a hot, new travel destination.
Nanjing has now become a highly desirable option for business and major event tourism, and here are the five main reasons why:
First and foremost, Nanjing is perfectly equipped to handle groups of visitors of all sizes, from large to small. With 23 conference venues (including the Nanjing International Expo Center, the Nanjing International Exhibition Center and the Jinling Conference Center), a range of top level sporting facilities and more than 100 hotels boasting four or more stars, there is almost no event in the world too big or small for Nanjing. But the venues and facilities are not just large and numerous – they are also beautifully designed and fully equipped to modern standards.
One of the big stumbling blocks for cities when they host major conferences and events is transportation – but this isn’t a problem in Nanjing. The city’s already excellent public transport system was given a further upgrade for the Youth Summer Olympic Games, so getting around is now not only easy, but actually enjoyable. Whether popping on one of the subway trains that are part of the city’s underground Metro system (which is one of the largest in the country) or enjoying the more scenic options of bus or ferry, travelling around Nanjing is simple and a great way to rub shoulders with the friendly locals.
Things to do
There are dozens of ways to spend leisure time in Nanjing – the challenge is figuring out what to do first. Perhaps a tour around the Ming City Walls followed by a visit to the Presidential Palace and then a dinner of freshly steamed dumpling at one of the restaurants in the popular Shiziqiao food district? Or a trip to Hongshan Forest Zoo to see the pandas followed by a stop by the Ming Emperor Tomb and a feast at the night-time kebab market at Sanpailou? A dip in the Tangshan hot springs? A bowl of the famous duck soup at Nanjing Impressions restaurant? An afternoon spent wandering around the Nanjing Museum? The options are endless…
Residents of this beautiful city are rightfully proud of their home, and they are eager to share it with visitors from all over the world. So when locals welcome tourists to Nanjing, there is no doubt that it is genuine and heartfelt – and this can make all the difference when groups of people descend on a city for a major event or conference. Whether it is getting directions from friendly Nanjingers on the street, asking for tips on what to order from a waiter or food vendor, or receiving advice from a knowledgeable taxi driver on unmissable but lesser known tourist spots to hit, the one guarantee is that locals will always be happy to play the role of unofficial tour guide for visitors.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, one the biggest reasons why Nanjing has become such a popular destination for event tourism is simply that the city just keeps getting better and better, and will continue to do so well into the future. Creating an exciting and memorable experience for visitors is part of Nanjing’s DNA, and the dazzling display the city put on for the Youth Summer Olympic Games was just the beginning. Despite Nanjing’s long and fascinating history, the best is undoubtedly still to come.
The Ming Great Wall of Nanjing
Tour Nanjing's 600-year-old city fortifications to appreciate ancient architecture.