In Conservation With Pansy Ho at the UNWTO General Assembly
Ms. Pansy Ho is the Vice Chair and Secretary General of Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF). A strong ally of UNWTO, she speaks here with UN Tourism News about the present state – and the future – of tourism destinations around the world.
1. What are your expectations for this General Assembly?
I am thrilled to be a part of this leading event within our Travel and Tourism industry, to gain insights into how UNWTO is aligning its annual objectives and roadmap with SDG goals, and reflect upon how our trade community can reinforce and contribute. I am also most honoured to represent Global Tourism Economy Research Center, which has partnered with UNWTO to present this year’s UNWTO Awards—it’s the Oscars of our industry that celebrates all-rounded best practices, handpicked from the public, private and non-profit spheres. Of course, it’s always a pleasure to catch up with old friends and to make new ones, while exchanging insights and getting inspired by the many visionary leaders attending. There’s always something new, something intriguing happening around our community. I look forward to a rewarding week ahead.
2. Balancing growth and sustainability is chief among tourism challenges. What is your view on how best to achieve this?
Urban destinations around the world are increasingly turning to Smart Tourism as key to sustainable growth. Through the application of advanced technologies, our industry seeks possible solutions to alleviate stress factors imposed on scenic spots, transportation infrastructure and the environment. China is among the few forefront countries in this regard, notably in Yunnan and Hangzhou, where tech-mediated platforms have brought about societal advancements from the inside out. Macau is also following the same path of development under the immense efforts and leadership of the Government. With the intrinsic advantage of our tourism economy where digital applications are already prolific, I am positive in seeing encouraging results.
3. What are the main areas that GTERC will be looking into over the coming year?
Since its inception, GTERC has placed strong emphasis on the economic side of tourism, examining issues such as the industry’s contribution to overall productivity and efficiency in job creation. We have also been jointly publishing annual research reports with UNWTO on Asia Tourism Trends with the objective of facilitating policy makers and corporate leaders in the formulation of tourism policies and investment plans. Lately, GTERC has added a new dimension to our dialogues- the humanity aspect of tourism including how it contributes to the building of harmonious societies and a better life for all people. The upcoming GTEF 2019 is themed "Tourism and Leisure: Road Map to a Beautiful life" and we will be looking into the innovative ways to manage growth and sustainability through a softer lens.
4. With the coming of age of tourism, how do you see the role of UNWTO evolving in the future?
As the number of people travelling domestically and internationally is reaching new heights, we see the growing importance of tourism in global societal and economic development. Seamless, smart and secure travel is on high demand. Issues about sustainable tourism growth, technology, visa facilitation and travel security will continue to take center stage in tourism discussion. We believe UNWTO, being the international organization that unite world governments, industry leaders and institutions, will keep leading the promotion of public-private partnerships in encouragement of innovative solutions to overcome future challenges including over-tourism and human capital constraints, through which SDG goals can be achievable.