Shanghai and UNWTO Align Future Priorities

Shanghai City signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UNWTO this week during a visit to UNWTO Headquarters, committing to increased future collaboration, especially in the areas of tourism development, event organization and human resource development.

The Shanghai delegation, led by Shanghai Municipal Government´s Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Xue Chao and the Vice Chairperson of Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration, Ms. Cheng Meihong, discussed the future of Shanghai´s tourism industry with UNWTO Executive Director Mr. Zoltan Somogyi and a team of UNWTO Heads of Departments including the Director of the Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Xu Jing.

A main discussion point on the agenda was the growth of creative tourism in Shanghai, and the proliferation of mega events such as the World Travel Fair, which will be held in Shanghai for the ninth time this May.

Shanghai, which in 2011 welcomed 250 million domestic visitors, is already setting itself up as a major event hub in Asia and the Pacific, playing host to a variety of international sporting championships, festivals and conferences annually. In 2011 alone, 745 conferences were held in Shanghai, China´s largest city.

¨We want Shanghai to be an example to the rest of the world on how to hold and manage large scale events, ¨ said Ms. Meihong, adding that there is still a lot of room for development. ¨ We hope that UNWTO can support and guide us in this.¨

UNWTO, which has in past years collaborated with Shanghai in different tourism-related activities including  the international conference on metropolitan tourism,  a study on urban tourism development in China and a discussion forum on cruise tourism, is happy to strengthen its cooperation with Shanghai, a city which recognizes  the potential of mega events to bring long lasting benefits to hosts.

¨Excellent mega events not only generate tourist arrivals, but also make a city more visible, ¨ said Mr. Somogyi. Mega events can also help to build national unity and pride, attract foreign investment, encourage workforce development and aid in brand positioning. The relevance and importance of events continue to increase as more and more countries in the Asia and the Pacific region discover the distinct role of events in the future tourism landscape.

Indonesia for example is another country which is taking the growing importance of sports and events in tourism seriously, having recently created its new Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy specifically for this reason.