UNWTO and China organize First World Conference on Tourism for Development

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Government of the People’s Republic of China are organizing the First World Conference on Tourism for Development in Beijing on 18-21 May 2016. Under the theme “Tourism for Peace and Development”, the event aims to kick start a high level debate on the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We asked UNWTO Secretary- General Taleb Rifai why this event is so remarkable.

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Taleb Rifai, Secretary-general, UNTWO

It is highly remarkable that for the first time, a worldwide event involving high-level officials is focusing on tourism for development, a field that UNWTO has been pushing forward for the last decades. Today, it is evident that tourism is an engine for the development of all nations, developed and developing ones, that it creates jobs and inclusion and that it contributes to raising public awareness about global concerns such as environment preservation. This Conference we are organizing in Beijing in cooperation with the Government of China will bring together world leaders to discuss on these roles of the tourism sector, so it is a unique and unprecedented opportunity. Furthermore, this event comes in a highly relevant momentum, as 2017 has been recently declared by the UN General Assembly as the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development, a great occasion that all the tourism and non-tourism community should celebrate globally! We believe that this type of event helps to create awareness but also to advocate tourism for development as a policy strategy for countries.

 Why is this conference being held in China?

Over the past decade, the People’s Republic of China has grown to become the biggest tourism outbound market in the world, with double-digit growth every year since 2014. It is a great example for other nations considering prioritising tourism as a key sector. Furthermore, the recent decision of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of
China to promote rural tourism as an effective engine to fight poverty really positions the country with regard to tourism development.