2011 Annual Briefing and Luncheon for Ambassadors of Asia and the Pacific to Spain

On the 21st of February 2011, the Secretary General Taleb Rifai welcomed Ambassadors and representatives from UNWTO Asia-Pacific Member States in Madrid to an interactive discussion on world tourism issues and UNWTO’s programme of activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

The success of these meetings, which have been held consecutively for the past seven years, lie in the relevance of the discussions to contemporary international affairs and their correlation with the performance of the tourism industry.

The Secretary General briefed the Ambassadors on current world trends, highlighting the strong presence of Asia in the post-economic crisis climate. They were further apprised of the prospects in the region for the year ahead, with a predicted growth rate of 7-9%.

Mr Xu Jing, Director of the Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific, spotlighted significant developments and activities in the region. He emphasised the benefits of recent South-South cooperation activities and other regional initiatives. Capacity building workshops, setting up observatories and sustainability indicators were some of such initiatives which proved to be extremely beneficial for the Asia-Pacific region.

The meeting was an excellent opportunity for the Ambassadors and representatives to exchange notes of mutual interest with the Secretary General. Topics of particular interest included travel advisories, excessive taxation relating to tourism, and visa facilitation, among others. It was also an occasion for the Ambassadors to share notes on events and developments which they were anticipating in the coming year. 2011 is sure to be an eventful year for the Asia-Pacific region, with the 23rd Joint Commission Meeting to be held in Sri Lanka in March, the UNWTO General Assembly in the Republic of Korea in October, the International Cricket World cup co-hosted by Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India, and three countries launching their Tourism Year in 2011, namely Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.