Bangkok – June 2, 2016: The First World Conference on Tourism for Development was held in Beijing from 18 to 21 May 2016 with a specific view to advancing the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) attended the event as an Associate Member of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Mr. Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director, Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO (MTCO) – (left); Ms Lin Na, Party Secretary of Guilin Tourism University (middle); Mr Lin Yejiang, Vice Party Secretary of Guilin Tourism University
Jointly organized by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and UNWTO while co-hosted by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, the First World Conference on Tourism for Development officially commenced on 19 May with an opening ceremony held at the Golden Hall in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Li Keqiang, attended the opening ceremony and delivered a speech. Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (UN), Wu Hongbo, read out the congratulatory letter from Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and Secretary-General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, gave a speech. The opening ceremony of the Conference was officiated by CNTA Chairman Li Jinzao. Representatives of 107 countries and 14 international organizations attended the Conference.
During his keynote speech, CNTA Chairman Li Jinzao stated that 153 countries and regions around the world have become the outbound tourism destinations for Chinese citizens. Among these destinations, group tour businesses have been inaugurated officially in 121 countries and regions. “China’s inbound and outbound tourism is set to boom over the next five years with more than 600 million tourists. CNTA is eager to extend its partnership with different countries and regions. Aiming to raise the level of freedom, safety, convenience and leisure for travelers, CNTA will steadily lower the visa restrictions, refine the tourism policy on border crossing, simplify checkpoint formalities, shorten tourists’ commute and lower travel expenses. In the next five years, China is expected to export 150 million outbound Chinese tourists to the neighboring countries, generating at least 200 billion US dollars in visitor spending,” he remarked.
Secretary-General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifai
Secretary-General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, expressed that tourism has become one of the fastest growing industries nowadays, accounting for 10% of the world’s GDP. The sector has a vast potential to address some of the most pressing challenges. Tourism fosters economic growth, promotes inclusive development and encourages environmental preservation. Moreover, tourism can help the world build a more tolerant and peaceful society through the millions of encounters that take place every day around the world.
The First World Conference on Tourism for Development was initiated by CNTA with active participation from around the world. Under the theme ‘Tourism for Peace and Development’, the Conference included an opening ceremony and the Summit in the program. Besides sharing their latest experience on the global tourism development, the attendees also exchanged their perspectives on a range of topics including tourism-led development and promotion of UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, systematic studies on ways to enhance international and regional cooperation as well as integrated development in tourism, fostering balanced and sustainable development of the global tourism industry, as well as how tourism growth can benefit more people in the world among other issues. The Conference also adopted and published the Beijing Declaration as one of its accomplishments.
HE Tith Chantha, Secretary of State, Ministry of Tourism Cambodia (middle); Mr. Harry Hwang, Deputy Director of Asia Pacific, UNWTO (left); Mr. Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director, Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO (MTCO)
This significant gathering of the international tourism community has brought together nearly 1,000 participants including 70 ministerial officials from 107 countries and regions, as well as representatives from central ministries and commissions, provinces and municipalities of China, tourism research institutes, large tourism enterprises as well as media agencies at home and abroad. MTCO Executive Director Jens Thraenhart attended the opening ceremony, keynote speeches and the Summit among other activities in the program, as well as the presentation banquet “Beautiful China – Beijing Night”. Cambodia Secretary of State HE Tith Chantha was among the guest speakers in the Summit.
Mr. Yu Fan, Chairman, Tourism Development Committee of Yunnan Tourism (right); Mr. Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director, MTCO
Furthermore, MTCO paid a courtesy visit to the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) in the morning of 18 May to further enhance mutual connections and communication within the Greater Mekong Subregion. MTCO Executive Director Jens Thraenhart informed WTCF Deputy Secretary-General Li Baochun about the upcoming Mekong Tourism Forum in Sihanoukville, Cambodia from July 5-7, 2016 (www.MekonTourismForum.org), and expressed his wish that WTCF can mark its presence at the prestigious and most important travel and tourism conference in the Mekong Region.
About Mekong Tourism:
Established in early 2006, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is a collaborative effort between the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS): Cambodia, The People’s Republic of China (PRC) (Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces), The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The mission of the MTCO is to help GMS National Tourism Organizations develop and promote the Mekong as a single travel destination, offering a diversity of good quality and high-yielding sub-regional products that help to distribute the benefits of tourism more widely; add to the tourism development efforts of each GMS destination; contribute to poverty reduction, gender equality and empowerment of women; and minimize any adverse impacts of tourism through the development of a sustainable industry. For more information, please visit www.MekongTourism.org, and follow us on social media @TourismMekong.
Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO)
Mr. Jens Thraenhart
MTCO Executive Director