UNWTO Silk Road Ministers’ Summit: Commitment and cooperation to establish a powerful brand
The first UNWTO Silk Road Ministers’ Summit, held at ITB 2011, has concluded with commitment to enhanced cooperation to achieve the objectives of the Silk Road Action Plan, a collaborative framework for advancing tourism development across 25 countries (Berlin, Germany, 9-13 March 2011).
“This is an exciting period in the development of Silk Road tourism,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, welcoming Tourism Ministers and Ambassadors from over 25 Silk Road countries. “The Silk Road is a powerful brand for leveraging continued tourism growth in Asia and the Middle East, while utilizing online technologies and social media. Nevertheless, there are still many barriers to be overcome as we work towards our objectives, including improved travel facilitation for tourists.”
At the Summit (9 March), UNWTO highlighted the importance of promoting a consistent and cohesive Silk Road brand identity across destinations. The results of preliminary online market research were revealed showing the Silk Road as the world’s most searched and sought after international travel route. UNWTO also introduced a web initiative which it has been developing with TripAdvisor, designed to promote all of the Silk Road destinations on one unique, informative and interactive online platform.
Ministers, Vice Ministers and Ambassadors from over 25 countries participated in the Summit, sharing their views and experiences on how they could benefit from cooperating with other destinations to drive development through the Silk Road brand. Tour operators urged the destinations to consider the importance of increasing accessibility, tourism infrastructure and the development of a reliable product.
UNWTO outlined the Silk Road Action Plan activities implemented so far and presented key objectives for the coming years. Priorities include comprehensive brand research and the establishment of a Silk Road brand toolkit. Travel facilitation is also high on the agenda.
Following the Summit, Mr. Rifai joined President and CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, Mr. Raimund Hosch, on a VIP Walk on the Silk Road, meeting the Ministers on their stands and visiting the new Silk Road pavilions.
Other Silk Road events at ITB included the Silk Road Tour Operators’ Networking Event where outbound and incoming tour operators met to explore new business opportunities along the Silk Road and the Silk Road Hour, a collection of short films featuring the destinations of the Silk Road, screened daily at the ITB Cinema.