More than 1,300 delegates from over 130 countries attended the opening of the 22nd session of the World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Chengdu, China this morning.
During the next four days, the priorities of the organisation for 2018-2019, the transformation of the UNWTO Code of Ethics for Tourism into an international convention, and the impact of technology on tourism will centre the discussions.
On the agenda of the assembly is also the election of the secretary general for the next four years.
“China is an inspiration to others in terms of its supportive tourism policies and in placing tourism at the centre of its poverty alleviation and national development strategies,” said UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai.
“Besides being the fourth most-visited country in the world, with 59 million international arrivals in 2016, China is also the largest domestic tourism market, with 4.4 billion trips made within its borders,” he added.
The secretary general also recalled the relevance of having this general assembly, the last of his mandate, under the framework of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.
“I feel very proud to have contributed to expanding the capacity of travel and tourism to the progress of the sustainability goals that guide our common action to 2030.
“This assembly is a unique opportunity to continue advancing together,” he said.
Wang Yang, vice premier of the China, recalled that, since the inclusion of China in UNWTO in 1983, the tourism sector has grown to represent ten per cent of the country’s economy.
Wang confirmed that “smart tourism” will guide the development of the sector and highlighted the need to enforce policies to enhance sustainable tourism.
He also mentioned that the inherently sustainable approach to tourism in China resulted from the traditional harmony between man and nature widely present in Chinese culture.
In addition, he underlined the relevance of increasing cooperation among countries in the field of tourism, especially in crisis situations such as natural disasters.
He further noted that six million jobs related to tourism have been created in 2016 in China, particularly for women, people with disabilities and rural communities.