Cambodia Hosts EATOF Forum

UNWTO´s relationship with Cambodia was further strengthened last month as Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Harry Hwang delivered a keynote presentation on Optimizing Sustainable Green Tourism to Cambodia´s Minister of Tourism, the Governor of Siem Reap Province and other high-level participants in the East Asia Inter-Regional Tourism Forum (EATOF) in Siem Reap on 29th November.

The Forum, established in Korea´s Gangwon Province in 2000, was this year held under the theme of ¨East Asia to Further Strengthen with Sustainable Green Tourism Sector.¨ EATOF, whose aim is to provide a platform for the discussion of common issues and the joint promotion of East Asia in the world market, is also the only international tourism association in East Asia led by local governments.

¨EATOF provides an invaluable framework to promote destinations and encourages cooperation rather than competition; ¨ said Mr. Hwang during his presentation.

¨The goals of sustainable green tourism and balanced development constitute a most urgent agenda for East Asia. I take great pride saying that East Asia is on its way to firmly establishing itself on the tourist map of the world and as a result, will change the pattern of world tourism. But the region also needs to adapt to new concepts of green tourism and to strike its own balance between development and protection of resources. ¨

Mr. Hwang´s presentation took stock of the work UNWTO has done in the field of green tourism, from hosting international conferences on climate change and tourism in Tunisia and Davos (Switzerland) in 2003 and 2007, signing the Davos Declaration and hosting a Ministerial Summit on Tourism and Climate Change during the World Travel Mart in London in 2007 including ´Roadmap for Recovery´ which aims to draw the attention of governments and policymakers to its call for a transition to a green economy.

More recently, UNWTO held the Regional Conference on Green Tourism in conjunction with its Joint Commission Meeting for East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia. UNEP´s recently launched Green Economy Report, which includes a chapter on tourism compiled by UNWTO, was also presented, as was the publication ´Best Practices and Recommendations for Ecotourism in Asia and the Pacific´.

As the world stands set to witness 1 billion international tourists travelling in 2012, the impact of these tourists on the countries, cultures and environments they visit are a major topic of discussion in many countries.

EATOF, by providing an arena for the exchange of tourism policy and industry information, the development of joint programmes, opportunities for education and knowledge exchange for both the public and private sector and other areas of mutual cooperation, is a key event in the region´s annual calendar.

This year´s host country, Cambodia, has planned further cooperation with UNWTO by considering hosting its Regional Conference on Cultural Heritage Site and Tourism Management in 2013 as well as the UNWTO General Assembly in 2015.