Tourism in Beijing has come of age as the tenth annual Global Travel & Tourism Summit kicks of in the Chinese capital with an extravagant opening ceremony.
With rival Shanghai making the headlines recently – as host of Expo 2010 – the city was keen to build upon the successes of the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games and regain the mantel of China’s top destination.
Pictured: WTTC chairman Geoffrey Kent opens the annual Global Travel & Tourism Summit
Hosted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) – itself celebrating it twentieth anniversary this year – the event saw leading industry figures gather at the China World Hotel for a classic display of Chinese hospitality.
As dancers performed in the background, WTTC chairman Geoffrey Kent outlined the importance of tourism in the global economic recovery, while also reminding delegates challenges remain ahead.
During his speech Mr Kent praised China for “showing the way in recognising the value and potential of tourism”, while also acknowledging the Communist-state as the among the biggest tourism destinations in the world.
UNTWO secretary-general Taleb Rifai addresses the Global Travel & Tourism Summit opening ceremony
China has recently reorganised tourism as one of the five key pillars of economic success, with officials hoping to bolster the country’s offering to overseas markets, while also creating jobs and reducing environmental damage at home.
Also on hand to address the crowd was United Nationals World Travel Organisation secretary general Taleb Rifai, who reminded delegates the recovery to date remained “fragile, uneven and easily reversed”.
However, this was a largely celebratory occasion, with Mr Rifai also praising China as a “star” of world tourism, while reminding guests the economic outlook had “clearly improved” since the WTTC last met in Florianópolis, Brazil a year ago.
With the 2015 deadline approaching, Mr Rifai reminded delegates of the hard work still needed in order to ensure the United Nations meets its Millennium Development Goals.
Performers at the Global Travel & Tourism Summit opening ceremony
According to WTTC’s 2009 economic research, travel and tourism in China accounts for 9.8 per cent of China’s GDP, or Rmb2,993.7 billion (US$449.3 billion), and 7.8 per cent of total employment in the country, or 60.8 million jobs.
Over the next ten years, China is also expected to be the fastest growing economy in the world - in addition to being the leader in terms of travel & tourism growth.
Addressing delegates the mayor of Beijing, Guo Jinlong, praised the role of tourism in the development of the city, arguing the industry was a “key component of a modern economic system”, while the hosting of the WTTC event was a “major event in the development of the global tourism sector”.
The annual Global Travel & Tourism Summit is scheduled to run until May 27th at the International Convention Centre.