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Kite Festival Is Economic High Flier
Weifang, a small city in east China’s Shandong Province, has in recent years become the “kite capital” of the world. Over the past 20 years, its kite festivals have done much to develop friendly and cooperative relationships with as many as 145 countries and regions.

The kite is well known for the delight it can bring to children but it can bring economic benefits to make their parents happy too. For example, during the 2002 Weifang International Kite Festival, a staggering 10 million kites were sold bringing in 400 million yuan (US$48 million).

Each kite festival brings cultural exchanges and gives a boost to sports and health care, tourism and sightseeing and economy and trade. The humble little kite has turned into a big player in the development of the local economy.

Last year alone Weifang’s kite related activities were responsible for gross domestic product amounting to some 89.5 billion yuan (US$10.8 billion). In the circumstances it is no surprise to find the International Kite Association located in Weifang.

Weifang is the home of kites. The kites made here are famous across the world for their elegant forms, bright colors and exquisite craftsmanship not to mention how very well they fly. The Weifang kite occupies an important place among Chinese kites.

A delegation from Weifang went to the 1983 Shanghai Kite Show. They caused quite a stir in the audience when they flew their kite fully 50 meters long and fashioned in the shape of a centipede with a dragon’s head. It was then that the smart Weifang people came to realize just what a huge potential for their cultural and economic development was waiting to be set free by the humble kite. The very next year the first International Kite Festival was held in Weifang. It attracted visitors from dozens of countries and regions and marked the beginning of the worldwide influence of Weifang kites.

Right from the start the kite festival was more than just a cultural activity. From the time of the third festival onwards, the Weifang organizers have been promoting trade fairs and exhibitions to run alongside and complement the kite festival.

Since 1995 a trade fair has been held simultaneously with the kite festival. This has done much to promote economic exchanges between the province of Shandong and Taiwan and especially between the city of Weifang and Taiwan. The year 2000 was the year that saw the Shouguang International Agricultural Exhibition being brought on board as well.

Since then the International Kite Festival, the Shandong-Taiwan Trade Fair and the Shouguang International Agricultural Exhibition have become regular features in the Weifang calendar.

To date eight trade fairs have been held bringing in Taiwan investment amounting to some US$1.5 billion. The three agricultural exhibitions held so far have involved a total investment of some 4.6 billion yuan (nearly US$560 million).

The kite festival means good business for all those who provide food, drink and accommodation. And it promotes tourism, commerce, transportation and culture.

Each year during this period, Weifang welcomes as many as 30,000 visitors a day. The kite festival, trade fair and agricultural exhibition coexist as a powerful catalyst for economic development in Weifang.

Over the years the organization of the kite festival has made the transformation from the mechanisms of the planned economy to those of the market economy.

From the 1st to the 15th festivals, the government allocated the funding and assigned tickets to enterprises. This led to financial burdens all round.

In 1998 Weifang put forward a new model of “government sponsorship, society participation and market operation.” From 1999 on it began to positively cultivate the active participation of commercial organizations and both domestic and overseas enterprises have now become active sponsors. Last year was the most successful so far with six major cultural and sporting activities all sponsored by enterprises.

And so the Weifang Kite Festival has turned out to be an economic high flier.

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