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APEC tourism summit begins in Japan

APEC tourism summit begins in Japan

Tourism ministers from the Asia-Pacific region have stressed the importance of achieving sustainable growth in this key industry, on the opening day of the APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting.

Opening the meeting, Japan’s minister of tourism, Sumio Mabuchi, said the industry, like the rest of the economy, had suffered from the global financial crisis, natural disasters and the H1N1 virus in recent years.

Pictured: The summit is taking place in Nara, Japan

However minister Mabuchi, who is chairing the meeting, said tourism has the potential to play a key role in the region’s economic recovery.

Steps, therefore, need to be taken by APEC to help nurture the industry so that it grows sustainably for future generations.

“Although we see some signs of upturn in the economy starting from this year, we are still far away from a full-fledged recovery,” Minister Mabuchi told the meeting in his home town of Nara, Japan.

“So there are efforts being taken around the world to bring about growth,”

Japan’s minister of tourism Sumio Mabuchi will chair the meeting

The meeting comes at a tense time for Japan, with fellow APEC member China earlier advising local travel agencies not to promote travel to the country amid an increasingly tense territorial dispute between the two.

China is seeking the release of fishing boat captain Zhan Qixiong, whose ship collided with two Japanese coastguard vessels a fortnight ago near the Senkakus, a group of uninhabited islands claimed by both countries.

The islands are known as the Diaoyus in China.

Following the refusal of Japan to release the capital Beijing suspended high-level contacts, with premier Wen Jiabao threatening further retaliation.

World Tourism

APEC’s share of world tourism has increased from 28 per cent in 1995 to currently 51 per cent today, according to StatsAPEC, with international tourism arrivals growing to approximately 122 million annually over this period.

During the plenary session, ministers discussed the important role that the sector can play in contributing to APEC’s new growth strategy, which will be submitted to APEC Leaders for consideration when they meet in November in Yokohama.

In particular, Ministers discussed the need for protection of the region’s natural and cultural assets to create a more environmentally sustainable sector.

Creating more stable workforces in the sector and enabling tourism to generate business opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises would also lead to more inclusive growth of the sector that benefits more sections of society.