On February 24, the World Tourism Alliance kicked off the Xianghu Dialogue 2022 in Hangzhou, where the WTA headquarters is located. Hu Heping, Minister of Culture and Tourism of China, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Yi Lianhong, Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Provincial People’s Congress, and WTA Chairman Zhang Xu attended and addressed the opening ceremony. Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Mr. Reyes Maroto Illera delivered a video message. The opening ceremony was presided over by Liu Shijun, Vice Chairman and Secretary-General of the Alliance.
Minister Hu Heping extended warm congratulations on the convening of the event. He noted that China attached great importance to tourism development and considered the tourism industry an important bridge for spreading Chinese culture, exchanging with other cultures and enhancing friendship between Chinese people and the rest of the world. Tourism development is an important way to meet the cultural needs and strengthen the mentality of the people. In promoting tourism development, China has always put the people and their interests first, and has been vigorously promoting tourism on a large scale, especially smart and green tourism, and advocating good tourist manners. We actively promote the in-depth integration of culture and tourism, and drive the tourism industry toward the goal of high-quality development. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is willing to work with international organizations in the field of tourism, tourism authorities and professionals in different countries to improve bilateral and multilateral mechanisms for tourism exchanges and cooperation, give full play to the role of international organizations such as the UNWTO and the WTA, and promote exchanges and cooperation at multiple levels and in more areas to coordinate policies, sparkle new ideas, upgrade services and cultivate tourism professionals, to jointly write a new chapter in the recovery, revitalization, and prosperity of the tourism industry. He hoped that Xianghu Dialogue would expand consensus, build up mutual trust and promote cooperation among its participants, and grow into a platform with ever-increasing credibility and influence to rally the global tourism industry and sustain the appeal of tourism.
In his speech, Mr. Yi Lianhong observed the accelerating recovery of global tourism industry which was ushering in the spring of blossoms. Zhejiang is known for its rich cultural heritage and tourism resources, the two of which complement each other. It has been reputed as “the land of fish and rice, the home of silk and tea, a treasure house of cultural relics, and a premium tourist destination” since ancient China. It is no coincidence that Zhejiang is chosen as the permanent home of the WTA and was where May 19 was designated as China Tourism Day. In the future, Zhejiang will continue to expand tourism exchanges, and work with the Alliance members in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and harmonious coexistence, strengthen communication, cooperation, and connectivity, and jointly build a global tourism community to expand consensus and pool wisdom worldwide. The province will continue to inject momentum into tourism development, earnestly implement the “Eighth-Strengths and Eight-Pronged Strategy,” and vigorously pursue innovation, overcome challenges encountered in reform, and open up at a higher level. Meanwhile, it will step up to develop smart tourism featuring digital, grid-based and AI-empowered development, launch international tourism exchanges and cooperation in all respects, and concentrate on building Zhejiang into a world-class tourist destination. The government will continue to develop and promote good practices in tourism cooperation, strive to improve the business environment and services for the WTA, and work with it to drive the WTA headquarters to a higher level and develop a prosperous global tourism industry.
In the keynote speech entitled “China Re-Opens: Investing in Tourism for Jobs, Growth and Rural Development,” Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili said that China was one of the world’s major tourist destinations and source countries, and China’s reopening a major driver of the reopening of the international tourism market, and thus vital for global tourism industry and economy, a milestone worth writing into the history of global tourism development. At this moment, the global tourism industry needs unity and cooperation. He hoped China to rise as a world leader and lead the recovery and development of the world tourism industry. The convening of Xianghu Dialogue at this critical moment is important for the global tourism industry to come together, strengthen exchanges and cooperation. He looked forward to a bigger and stronger WTA and hoped that it would be as open, honest and collaborative as always, take its partners seriously, and inject more impetus into bilateral and multilateral cooperation worldwide.
Chairman Zhang Xu said that the past five years had seen the Alliance grow from scratch and from strength to strength, forge ahead and innovate for both internal and external development. He hoped that through Xianghu Dialogue, participants would exchange ideas on the direction of global tourism governance, share good practices for the steady recovery and quality upgrading of the tourism industry, and contribute to the sustainable and inclusive development of the global tourism industry. In the future, the Alliance is willing to work with all parties concerned to promote the sustainable development of tourism and the world; to promote inclusive tourism, and facilitate poverty reduction and rural revitalization through tourism so as to give full play to tourism’s value in stimulating economic growth, improving people’s lives and livelihoods and enhancing social progress at the same time; and to promote responsible tourism and instill the idea of tourist manners and ecological conservation deeply in the hearts of the people.
Spanish Minister Reyes Maroto Illera said Xianghu Dialogue came at an moment of optimism: the year of 2023 is predicted to be a year of tourism recovery, with groundbreaking, record-breaking performance. But on the other hand, the global tourism industry faces many challenges and urgently needs to accelerate sustainable development, digitalization and inclusive cooperation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and China, and it is also the China-Span Year of Culture and Tourism. She believed that bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture and tourism would reach a new level and open up new ground.
Ms. Pansy Ho, Vice Chairman of the WTA and Chairman of the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre, said that tourism was a pillar industry of the world economy, and could create employment opportunities, improve infrastructure and promote economic and social development. At present, how to promote equitable, diverse and inclusive development is the top priority of the tourism industry. The Chinese government has introduced the “tourism plus” concept and continuously deepened tourism’s integration with related industries, which has been proved effective. Based on the policies of the central government, the Macao SAR has expanded tourism’s cooperation with related industries, with local communities, and with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and created a vibrant tourism ecosystem. She hoped that the WTA would actively play its platform role and make the tourism industry and the world better.
Vice Chairman and Secretary-General Liu Shijun said that Xianghu Dialogue was an international industry forum, and also a platform to seek industry consensus, unite business insiders, and draw the blueprint for the industry. We need harmonious coexistence and development between man and nature, win-win cooperation among countries around the world and in the industry to shape the ecosystem of sustainable tourism development in the future. He hoped that Xianghu Dialogue would contribute to the connectivity, resilience, recovery and prosperity of the global tourism industry.
In the two-day event themed “Harmonious Symbiosis: A New Paradigm for a New Tourism,” international and domestic experts and scholars exchanged views on four topics: “Collaboration & Cooperation—Revitalizing the Global Tourism Industry for Prosperity,” “Innovation & Progress—Keeping Up with Trends in Global Tourism Industry,” “ A Comprehensive Approach—Advancing Quality Tourism Development” and “Harmony & Sharing—Optimizing Tourism Destination Planning and Management.” During the event, the WTA and China International Poverty Alleviation Center jointly released the WTA Best Practices in Rural Revitalization through Tourism 2022, which collects 50 select best practices at home and abroad, and examines closely their useful attempts in targeted assistance, regional cooperation, innovative governance mechanisms, cultural and tourism integration, talent attraction, green development, digitalization, etc., contributing to global poverty alleviation and rural revitalization.
With four editions successfully held so far, Xianghu Dialogue has become an international heavyweight tourism dialogue platform for major international tourism organizations to strengthen connectivity, cooperation for shared benefits. It is one of the highest-level non-governmental international tourism forums with the most global influence at home, an international heavyweight tourism dialogue platform jointly developed by major international tourism organizations such as the UNWTO, World Travel & Tourism Council, and the European Travel Commission, and one of the most important international stages for non-governmental tourism exchange and cooperation in China.
The World Tourism Alliance is a global, comprehensive, non-governmental, non-profit international tourism organization initiated by China, founded in September 2017. Since then, dedicated to “Better Tourism, Better Life, Better World” and the mission of “promoting poverty reduction, development and peace through tourism,” the Alliance has actively promoted the connectivity, joint governance of the global tourism industry for shared benefits, and contributed to the sustainable and inclusive development of the global tourism industry. Up to now, the Alliance has 228 members from 42 countries and regions, launched brand events represented by Xianghu Dialogue, and published a number of research results represented by the WTA Best Practices in Rural Revitalization through Tourism series, receiving warm response among its members and the wider industry.
Liu Jie, member of the Standing Committee of Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee and Party Secretary of Hangzhou; Chen Yijun, member of the Standing Committee and Secretary-General of Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee; Hu Wei, Vice Governor of Zhejiang; Zhu Shanzhong, Ambassador of the UNWTO; and Wang Xiaofeng, President of the China Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Association also attended the event. WTA Vice Chairmen Adam Burke, Henri Giscard d’Estaing, Pansy Ho, Eduardo Santander and Xu Peng participated in several sessions. In the audience were representatives of a number of international organizations, foreign envoys in China, heads of foreign tourism offices in China, departmental heads of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China, other senior officials of local district, municipal and provincial governments, representatives of WTA members and other domestic and foreign guests and journalists.
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