On September 5, during the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (hereinafter referred to as the “CIFTIS”), Liu Shijun, Secretary-General of WTA, was invited to the guest interview room of People.cn, to tell the story of how WTA contributed to poverty reduction through tourism and restored confidence across the tourism industry during the pandemic. He said, since its establishment, the World Tourism Alliance (WTA) has been a staunch advocate and practitioner of poverty alleviation through tourism, and taken “tourism for poverty alleviation” as one of its three missions.
According to his introduction, WTA has been carrying out a series of activities of poverty reduction through tourism and poverty alleviation, receiving extensive attention from the international tourism industry. In the past few years, WTA has systematically studied the theory of poverty reduction through tourism in the international community, and published related reports for two consecutive years. Second, WTA has carried out cooperation with the international community in poverty reduction through tourism, and collected 100 poverty reduction cases mainly from China in three years. At the same time, WTA is also telling the international community the story of poverty reduction through tourism in China through multiple platforms.
To mitigate the severe impact of COVID-19 on tourism, WTA has enhanced the industry confidence in various ways, and also made active preparations for resumption of work and production. Liu Shijun said, although tourism was hard hit by the pandemic, we were not crushed, and actively arranged relevant work.
During the pandemic, WTA specially planned the “Meeting and Chatting” feature for more convenient communication with its members, Liu Shijun added. We are also working together with our members to actively respond to the pandemic through training and other methods.
At present, active deployments are being made for the resumption of work and production across the tourism industry. Liu Shijun introduced, the “Xianghu Dialogue” created by WTA will be held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, the headquarters of WTA, on November 12-14, with the theme “Shaping the Future: Rebuilding Confidence & Embracing the New Normal in Travel & Tourism”. In addition, activities with different themes such as the WTA·Yellow River Dialogue, WTA·Yiwu Dialogue, and “Beautiful Countryside” Town Forum will also kick off one after another.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Reporter: What measures did WTA adopt in response to the pandemic? What’s its plan after resumption of work and production?
Liu Shijun: As a comprehensive, non-governmental and non-profit international tourism organization initiated and established by China upon approval by the State Council, WTA upholds the mission of “Better Tourism, Better Life, Better World”, and will attract 212 members from 40 countries and regions by the end of this year. During the response to severe impacts of the pandemic on tourism, WTA first issued a positive initiative and a “Letter to Members” in early February, calling on the world tourism industry to improve confidence, and join hands sincerely to promote the recovery and revitalization of tourism. Second, to strengthen exchanges with the international industry, it has launched the “Meeting and Chatting” interview program, and invited members and partners of the European Travel Commission (ETC), Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, Seoul City, Lingnan Group, etc., to conduct discussions on several issues centering around hot topics of response to the pandemic, building a platform for information exchange and communication. Third, to effectively convey the voice of China, in mid-June, WTA issued an open letter “China in Action” to global tourism to introduce China’s economic and social recovery after a victory in pandemic control; participate in international webinars organized by some international organizations and brief on the recovery and revitalization of China’s tourism, becoming an important information channel for the international tourism industry to learn about China. Fourth, carry out training and research work to provide reference for the tourism industry. For example, it invited the heads of insurance companies to give special lectures and help tourism companies improve their ability to resist risks; and published the China’s Prosperity Report on Inbound, Outbound and Domestic Tourism Markets to provide decision-making reference for industry development, and so on. Through timely and effective information communication during the pandemic, WTA has given international tourism a true understanding of China’s successful pandemic control, building up China’s image as a responsible country.
Upon resumption of work and production, WTA will adapt to the tide of development, and assume more responsibility for the development of global tourism. Four events will be held in the near future. First, the 3rd WTA·Xianghu Dialogue will be held in Hangzhou on November 12-14. Themed on “Shaping the Future: Rebuilding Confidence & Embracing the New Normal in Travel & Tourism”, this event will describe the three-dimensional picture of the tourism industry under the new situation from the perspectives of industry, revolution, technology and education. Second, the 2nd Dahe Civilization Tourism Forum & WTA·Yellow River Dialogue will be held in Linfen City, Shanxi Province on September 20 this year. Third, “Yiwu Dialogue”, one of the official events of the 15th China Yiwu Cultural Products Trade Fair, is planned to be held in early November this year. Fourth, the “Beautiful Countryside” Forum under the “Belt and Road” framework is planned to be held in Gansu Province in the second half of this year. In terms of promoting tourism for poverty alleviation, WTA will release the WTA Best Practice in Poverty Alleviation Through Tourism in mid-October, and hold an online “Picture Exhibition on Poverty Alleviation through Tourism in China” jointly with the Bureau of International Exchange and Cooperation, Ministry of Culture and Tourism. To sum up, WTA will continue to build a cooperation platform for dialogue and exchange, a practical and authoritative information platform, a media platform for resource sharing, and a communication platform for integrated development, so as to deepen exchanges and cooperation between countries and regions in the world, and promote sustainable and inclusive development of global tourism.
Reporter: 2021 marks a decisive year for poverty alleviation in China. Could you brief us on WTA’s achievements in “tourism for poverty alleviation” worth learning from? What benefits have they brought to people?
Liu Shijun: Since its establishment, the World Tourism Alliance (WTA) has been a staunch advocate of poverty alleviation through tourism, and taken “tourism for poverty alleviation” as one of its missions. Guided by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Poverty Alleviation Office of the State Council, WTA has carried out a series of practical and international exchange activities in case analysis, theoretical research and experience publicity of poverty reduction through tourism in line with the idea of telling good stories about China and giving Chinese approach. It has demonstrated to the international community China’s important experience and great achievements in poverty reduction through tourism, attracting extensive attention from the international tourism industry.
(1) Conducting a systematic study on the theory of poverty reduction through tourism. In addition, WTA released the Report on World Tourism Development 2018 – the Global Process of Tourism for Poverty Alleviation and Demands of the Times and Report on World Tourism Development 2019 – Industry Implantation and Cultural Development of Tourism for Poverty Alleviation for two consecutive years. This is the first time that a non-government international tourism organization has released a report of poverty reduction through tourism, fully demonstrating China’s achievements of theoretical research on poverty reduction through tourism.
(2) Conducting extensive international cooperation on poverty reduction through tourism. In 2018 and 2020, WTA, in partnership with the World Bank and International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC), had released the WTA Best Practice in Poverty Alleviation through Tourism 2018 and WTA Best Practice in Poverty Alleviation through Tourism 2019. Through tripartite channels, WTA have cooperated with relevant international organizations such as UNWTO and PATA, global members of WTA, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, and provincial tourism departments, to collect poverty alleviation cases worldwide. A total of 100 typical cases of poverty alleviation through tourism were finally selected upon review by the expert group according to such criteria as quantifiable poverty alleviation effect, innovation, replication, positive social impact and sustainability, contributing paradigms and disseminating experience for the cause of poverty reduction through tourism.
To demonstrate and publicize the achievements of poverty reduction through tourism in China to the international community, in 2019, WTA cooperated with China Global Television Network (CGTN) under China Media Group to shoot a series of micro documentaries entitled “Better Tourism, Better Life, Better World” with WTA Best Practice in Poverty Alleviation Through Tourism as the blueprint. The series of videos were broadcast on CGTN worldwide on October 17, and synchronously released on CGTN Facebook, Twitter and WeChat and other new media terminals.
(3) Actively telling the story of poverty reduction through tourism in China using various platforms. On September 27, 2019, WTA and China National Tourism Administration Rome Office jointly held the “Roadshow of Poverty Alleviation through Tourism in China” and the “Picture Exhibition on Poverty Alleviation through Tourism in China” at FAO headquarters. Nearly 200 people participated in the event, including Niu Dun, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of China to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture, Rene Castro, Assistant Director-General for FAO, ambassadors to FAO from more than ten countries such as Italy and UK, diplomats to FAO, FAO officials and media representatives of different countries. This activity displayed China’s achievements in poverty reduction through tourism and the integrated development of culture and tourism in an intensive manner.
Moreover, WTA also contributed to poverty reduction through tourism and showcased the results of China’s efforts in poverty reduction through tourism by means of various activity platforms such as WTA·Xianghu Dialogue, WTA Members’ Day and sodality meetings at home and abroad. For example, the 1st “WTA·Xianghu Dialogue” held on September 9, 2018 was themed on “Poverty Reduction and Development, the Common Responsibility of the Global Tourism”. Two WTA Members’ Day activities held in Enshi, Hubei and Guilin, Guangxi in May and June, 2019 both focused on poverty reduction through tourism. At the two WTA Members’ Day activities, the practices and experience of poverty reduction through tourism of WTA member – Hubei Culture & Tourism Investment Group and Airbnb, were shared respectively, and various forms of exchanges were conducted to promote poverty reduction through tourism via rural revitalization, resource development, community participation and sharing economy.
Reporter: Through a series of activities represented by “WTA·Xianghu Dialogue”, Chinese tourism is organically connected with the world, and an international stage for telling Chinese stories is built. What are the considerations for this year’s activities?
Liu Shijun: A series of event brands created by WTA continue to expand their influence in the international tourism industry, and have become an important platform for global tourism to connect, understand and enter China. In particular, the “WTA·Xianghu Dialogue” series of activities are not only a non-governmental international tourism forum with the highest level and internationalization degree in Chinese tourism industry, but provides an international and heavyweight tourism dialogue platform jointly built and shared by key international tourism organizations. With wide attention from the global industry, it has become the most significant international stage for Chinese folk tourism exchanges.
The WTA·Xianghu Dialogue 2020, WTA Fourth Session of the First Council Meeting and the 2020 Annual Meeting will be held on November 12-14 in Hangzhou, China. In terms of support in co-organization, it received support from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), World Bank, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), European Travel Commission (ETC), Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF), and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), basically including the most influential international organizations in the tourism industry.In terms of forum themes and contents, “WTA·Xianghu Dialogue” is themed on “Shaping the Future: Rebuilding Confidence & Embracing the New Normal in Travel & Tourism”, including five sessions and three parallel forums. In terms of organization forms, both offline and online channels will be adopted, with the online channel open to the public, allowing for more interested friends to participate online. In terms of the guests present, hundreds of distinguished guests from home and abroad, including representatives of relevant international organizations, diplomatic envoys to China and overseas tourism agencies, WTA members, as well as persons in charge of cultural and tourism administrative departments, tourism associations, tourism cities, tourism groups, tourism colleges, research institutions, and news media will participate. As an important platform for the international tourism industry to exchange ideas and opinions, jointly build and share benefits, and reach consensus, “WTA·Xianghu Dialogue” is worth looking forward to, and welcomes all friends from all over the world.
Source: People.cn-Travel Channel