Secretary-General Tours Asia Reinforcing Tourism for Development
PR No.: PR18070
Madrid, Spain, 4 October 2018 – The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, visited East Asia last month to enhance political recognition of tourism as a leading contributor to innovation, employment and sustainable development, and deepen ties from investment and education to culture and peace-building. The official visit took place in China, Republic of Korea and Japan (11-23 September).
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili visited Beijing to reinforce UNWTO’s cooperation with China, tourism powerhouse and host of the 2017 UNWTO General Assembly. Mr. Pololikashvili met Vice Premier Sun Chunlan and Culture and Tourism Minister Luo Shugang, emphasizing the importance of high-level political support for tourism to advance on the economic policy agenda. “China is an example of a country using tourism for economic diversification and more resilient societies”, said Mr. Pololikashvili. He also thanked the Minister for China´s development assistance initiative of USD 2 million to be launched with UNWTO.
Meeting UnionPay Chairman and UNWTO Ambassador for sustainable tourism Ge Huayong and other tourism private sector representatives, Mr. Pololikashvili stressed UNWTO’s priorities: the need to make tourism smarter; support investment in small and medium-sized enterprises; and improve skills, education and training. He reiterated the crucial role of the private sector in supporting these priorities and expanding sustainable tourism development.
The Secretary-General then travelled to the Republic of Korea for the 7th UNWTO Urban Tourism Summit (16-19 September), which was attended by some 900 participants from 50 countries. “A vision of urban tourism for 2030 needs to be inclusive, resilient, innovative and smart”, he said at the conference, held in partnership with the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Also on the agenda were meetings with tourism minister Do Jonghwan and Mayor of Seoul Park Woon-soon.
Mr. Pololikashvili later visited Tokyo for the Tourism Expo Japan 2018 (20-23 September), joining the 2nd Ministerial Round Table on managing sustainable tourism for community development and welcoming two signatories to UNWTO’s Private Sector Commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
After meeting with Japanese parliamentary and administrative tourism officials, as well as technology startups, Mr. Pololikashvili attended a UNWTO symposium on tourism and culture, emphasizing that “With such tremendous global growth in travel, we have an increased responsibility to protect cultural and natural assets, as well as the traditions and well-being of local communities”.
In Osaka, Mr. Pololikashvili expressed support for Japan’s upcoming sports mega events, which hold major tourism development potential. “Japan’s world-renowned legacy in technology and innovation can help ensure the upcoming mega events lead to successful tourism development”, he said. The UNWTO Secretary-General concluded his mission by appointing footballer Andres Iniesta a UNWTO Ambassador for Responsible Tourism.
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