The first step to Chinese becoming the sixth official language of UNWTO was formally accepted at the first session of the General Assembly on Friday.The decision now needs to be ratified by two thirds of the member countries, although this move could be pre-empted.
In making the proposal for his language, the vice chairman of the China National Tourism Administration, Dr Du Jing, said Chinese was already an official langage for the UN and many of its agencies.
Accepting Chinese would help enhance cooperation between the country and UNWTO and serve as a bridge to encourage Chinsese investment in tourism, he said.
UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli said he was in favour, given the importance of China as both a generating and receiving market for tourism. But it could not be financed from the existing budget.
Director of Administration Peter Shackleford said later that the costs involved in adding another language could not be absorbed by such a small agency until the ratification process is complete.
But Chinese could be introduced more quickly if their government took a “pragmatic approach” and agreed to financing the costs of translation and interpretation services at UNWTO.