The 22nd General Assembly of the UNWTO has kicked off in Chengdu, China.
Between September 11 and 16, the 22nd General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation is being held as a conference of the highest caliber in the global tourism industry.
Held every two years, this year’s edition marks the first time the General Assembly sets foot in western China, and the world is waiting to see how the city will attract tourists from across the globe.
Welcoming attendees to the conference, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General said, “On behalf of the World Tourism Organisation, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 22nd Session of the UNWTO General Assembly. This session will be hosted by the dynamic city of Chengdu in Sichuan province of Southwest China.
It comes at a crucial time for the travel and tourism sector. International tourism reached new records in 2016 with over 1.2 billion tourists travelling the world in a single year, which was the seventh straight year of growth. 2017 is also a defining moment for tourism as the United Nations has declared it the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This year UNWTO has a roadmap of events highlighting tourism’s contribution and potential contribution to positive change for people and planet. And within it, the UNWTO General Assembly is the largest high-level gathering of the international tourism community. Our programme for this General Assembly will specifically address what we can do to make sure tourism is a leader in meeting the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dear friends, this Assembly is being held in China, a leading tourism source market and destination. A country that has seen the transformative power of tourism on development, peace and prosperity. And one that is committed to social, economic and environmental sustainability through tourism. I look forward to welcoming you all to Chengdu so that we can work together for a better travel and tourism sector and a better world.”
As an emblem of Chinese tourism, the city of Chengdu has been jointly named the Best Tourism City in China by the UNWTO and China National Tourism Administration, and was also proclaimed as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. In January this year, Chengdu was listed as one of the world’s 21 must-see travel destinations of 2017 by National Geographic Traveler, being the only Chinese city on the honour roll.
Li Jinzao, Chairman of China Tourism National Tourism Administration (CNTA) told attendees: “In recent years, China has been the biggest source of outbound tourists and fourth biggest inbound tourism market. According to the latest release of World Economic Forum, China is now ranked 15th by tourism competitiveness in the world. It is growing quickly into the biggest tourism market in the 21st century and making even bigger contribution to the global tourism development. The golden period of development for China’s tourism brings about more business opportunities to the world.
Meanwhile, it is imperative for China to strengthen tourism cooperation and communication with the rest of the world to achieve win-win benefits and integrated development. China highly values and is ready to learn from the experience of other countries in developing tourism. Last May, the Chinese government and the UNWTO successfully held the First World Conference on Tourism for Development in Beijing. This year, the UNWTO General Assembly is to open in China. All these efforts demonstrate the importance that China attaches to strengthening tourism cooperation with other countries in the world and the increasing integration of its role into the world tourism community.
More and more countries come to embrace the Belt and Road initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping, in which tourism plays an important role. I’m pleased to tell you Secretary-General Taleb Rifai and I both believe that it’s quite necessary to hold the Belt and Road Tourism Ministers Roundtable during this session of the General Assembly, so as to implement the Belt and Road Initiative, and to discuss the establishment of the Belt and Road Tourism Cooperation . We hope our proposal will be well received by all the Member States.
Aesop, an ancient Greek philosopher once said: Individually, you can easily be conquered, but together, you are invincible. The Chinese delegation is sincerely expecting to exchange views on global tourism development with our counterparts from all over the world. With the support from UNWTO, together we will promote integrated development of global tourism and bring more benefits to our peoples.”
CHENGDU – A VITAL CENTRE FOR TOURISM IN CHINA
Chengdu is the origin and growth pole of Sichuan cuisine, and Chengdu cuisine, renowned for its spicy and numbing characteristics, offers some 6,000 dishes and a tremendously diverse range of style. For many people, Chengdu is not only a city to be seen, but also one to be tasted and savoured.
As the most vital tourist distribution centre in western China, 102 international (regional) flight routes operate from Chengdu, and after the completion of Tianfu International Airport, Chengdu will become mainland China’s third city to be served by two of its own international airports. At present, the 72 hours visa-free policy has been enacted and is applicable to foreign citizens of 51 countries including Germany, Denmark and the United States in possession of flight ticket and entry document for a third nation.
The Chengdu of today has 16 foreign consulates, 33 international twin cities, economic and trade relations with 228 nations and regions across the planet, and offices of 278 of the Fortune Global 500 corporations. Staying abreast of the progress of economic globalization, Chengdu looks forward to sharing its tourism resources with worldwide tourists.
This conference will serve to extend China’s leaps and bounds in assimilating with the world in terms of trade, commerce and tourism. When Chairman of China National Tourism Administration Li Jinzao invited nations across the globe to come to Chengdu to participate in the General Assembly, he remarked, “The Chinese delegate sincerely hopes to trade opinions with associates around the world regarding global tourism growth. Under the prolific support of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, we shall jointly promote the integrated development of the global tourism industry and generate more benefits for the citizens of the world”.
2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development
The United Nations 70th General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (A/RES/70/193), for which Cleverdis (publishers of Hotel & Tourism Online) is official campaign supporter.
This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the public, while mobilising all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.
In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Year aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector than can contribute to the SDGs.
The #IY2017 will promote tourism’s role in the following five key areas:
(1) Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
(2) Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction
(3) Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
(4) Cultural values, diversity and heritage
(5) Mutual understanding, peace and security.
Join us in celebrating 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development! http://www.tourism4development2017.org