The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is organizing its first Ministerial Roundtable on Asia-Pacific Tourism Policies in Macao, China.This precedes the 44th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the 48th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for South Asia.
These events, scheduled to take place from 13 -15 June 2006, will play a significant role in steering the course of Asia’s future tourism activities.
Travel and tourism has become the world’s largest and fastest expanding industry with growth showing a consistent year on year increase.
International arrivals have increased by an average rate of 4.2% per annum between 1990 and 2005; a trend that has led the World Tourism Organization to predict that by 2020 tourist arrivals around the world should reach 1.6 billion.
The growth forecast is even more spectacular in the case of Asia and the Pacific where international arrivals are expected to leap almost fourfold from 111 million in 2000 to 417 million by 2020.
Asia has already overtaken the Americas - in 2002 - to become the second most visited region in the world.
This growth has been fuelled by rapid economic growth in Asia and the Pacific and by the increasing importance attributed to tourism by national governments.
Tourism has become the key industry in several countries in the region in terms of foreign exchange earnings, employment and the generation of income.
But this tremendous growth has also highlighted a wide range of social, cultural, environmental and economic policy issues that need to be addressed.
These can be grouped under two broad headings: firstly devising strategies to meet the projected growth in demand so that tourism continues to produce economic benefits; and secondly, managing tourism effectively to ensure that its growth does not compromise the principles of sustainability.
The UNWTO ministerial roundtable on tourism policies will look at potential challenges such as the development of tourism infrastructure; air capacity and airport congestion, especially in the case of developing countries; travel facilitation; the need for skilled labour and the intense competition among tourist destinations in the region.
It will also look at the most pressing current challenges to growth, including the possibility of an escalation in the avian flu scare, geopolitical uncertainties and the ongoing threat of terrorism.
I would like to extend my personal invitation to you to attend this roundtable and the Commission meeting.
The roundtable is being organised in response to concerns expressed by member States, to offer an interchange of ideas on tourism policies, and it is my intention that a similar forum should be organised in the region either on an annual basis or every two years.
In addition to the above meetings, Macao will also host a ceremony at which leading Asian film star Jackie Chan will be nominated as the first Asia-Pacific Tourism Ambassador for his active role in tourism and contribution to poverty alleviation initiatives.
The main item on the agenda at the Commission meeting will be the presentation of UNWTO’s seven market studies on the Asia-Pacific region’s major source markets - Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Thailand - which will emphasise the importance of intra-regional tourism as the mainstay of Asian tourism.
For more information:
World Tourism Organization
Regional Representation Office for Asia and the Pacific [email protected]