Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – the so-called BRICS – have convened in the Indian capital of Delhi to discuss how to marshal their growing international power.
Among the most pressing items on the agenda was an agreement to foster closer integration in the tourism sector.
Issued at the conclusion of the event, the Delhi Declaration read: “We encourage expanding the channels of communication, exchanges and people-to-people contact amongst the BRICS, including in the areas of youth, education, culture, tourism and sports.”
The meeting also argued the present conflict in Syria could only be resolved by mediation, while warning against an American attack on Iran.
Observers see the event as a coming of age for the emerging powers as they try to strengthen their position against the United States and Europe.
The countries represent some 28 per cent of the global economy and all have developed tourism economies.
The group accounts for over 43 per cent of the world’s population.
Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Jacob Zuma of South Africa joined Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese president Hu Jintao for the event.
China has the most developed tourism economy of the BRICS nations, receiving 55.7 million international visitors in 2010, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
These visitors spent $46 billion over the year.
Russia received over 20 million visitors in 2010, but will expect this number to significantly increase when it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
India – hosts of the BRICS summit – received over five million visitors in 2010. The strength of its tourism industry was recently recognised by the World Travel Awards.
The industry leading organisation confirmed it would host its 2012 Grand Final in Delhi in honour of the booming tourism industry in India.
In turn, Brazil receives about 5.1 million visitors from around the world each year.
Its emergence as an international powerhouse has been recognised by both International Olympics Committee and FIFA, with Brazil set to host the football World Cup in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro the Olympic Games in 2016.
Finally, South Africa, with its wild, untouched safari offering, welcomed some eight million guests in 2010, according to the UNWTO.