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World Tourism Alliance Hosts the 2023 Xianghu Dialogue in Hangzhou


Hangzhou, November 15, 2023 – The “2023 WTA • Xianghu Dialogue”, a prestigious event in the global tourism industry, was inaugurated today in Hangzhou, where the headquarters of the WTA is based. The opening ceremony was graced by the presence of distinguished guests including ZHANG Xu, WTA Chair; RAO Quan, Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China; ZHAO Cheng, Member of the Standing Committee and Director-General of Publicity Department of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee, China; and YAO Gaoyuan, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Mayor of Hangzhou Municipal People’s Government. LIU Shijun, WTA Vice Chair & Secretary-General, presided over the ceremony.


In his speech, Mr. ZHANG Xu acknowledged the significance of tourism as a key indicator of people’s improved living standards in the rapidly changing world, reiterating the historical role of tourism as a bridge for spreading civilization, exchanging cultures, and fostering friendships. He highlighted the current global transformations and the increasing interdependence of international communities. “In these pivotal times, we must remain steadfast, resilient, and patient, allowing the tourism industry to continue playing a crucial role in blending tradition with modernity and fostering symbiotic growth between culture, tourism, and the economy”, Zhang stated. The Xianghu Dialogue, focusing on cooperation, transformation, co-creation, sharing, empowerment, and gathering momentum, aims to explore the potential of tourism in connecting the world, boosting economies, fostering innovation, promoting industry integration, and accelerating sustainable high-quality development. He expressed hope that guests from international organizations, politics, tourism industry, and academia worldwide would contribute their insights and experiences to foster responsible and sustainable tourism.

RAO Quan, Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China

Mr. RAO Quan pointed out the significant role of tourism, one of the largest comprehensive industries globally, as a “strong engine” and “ballast stone” for stabilizing the economy, creating jobs, improving people’s livelihoods, and boosting confidence. He emphasized the Chinese government’s strong commitment to the development of the tourism sector, continuously enhancing policy support, diversifying product offerings, and unlocking consumer potential. Efforts to develop mass tourism, smart tourism, green tourism, and civilized tourism have been intensified, leading to significant achievements in integrating culture and tourism. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China is committed to working with international organizations, tourism departments, and industry professionals worldwide to improve bilateral and multilateral mechanisms for tourism exchange and cooperation. This includes leveraging the roles of the World Tourism Alliance, the International Tourism Alliance of Silk Road Cities, and other international bodies to strengthen policy coordination, market development, product supply, talent development, and information sharing. RAO Quan expressed hope for the WTA to leverage its local advantages and global integration to successfully organize the Xianghu Dialogue and other flagship events, thereby enhancing the Alliance’s visibility, expanding its global network, and contributing significantly to global tourism governance and world economic cooperation.

ZHAO Cheng, Member of the Standing Committee and Director-General of the Publicity Department of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee

Mr. ZHAO Cheng expressed pride in Zhejiang’s reputation as a land of fish and rice, silk and tea, rich cultural heritage, and a prime tourist destination. He emphasized the province’s unique blend of natural landscapes and cultural tourism resources, its deep historical roots, and its role as a cradle of Chinese civilization. Over the years, Zhejiang has enhanced its tourism brand through the integration of culture and tourism, fostering new strengths in innovative development and enhancing the sense of fulfillment among its people. The province’s tourism industry accounted for one-eighth of its total economic output in 2022. The signing of the agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province on January 17 this year, followed by the grand opening ceremony of the WTA headquarters in Hangzhou on February 24, marked a significant milestone, solidifying Zhejiang’s role in the global tourism landscape. This session of Xianghu Dialogue, themed “The Power of Travel and Tourism—Towards a Better Future”, aligns with the post-pandemic recovery of the tourism industry and the people’s expectations for a better life, providing a platform for consensus-building and deepened cooperation. As the host for the WTA headquarters, Zhejiang is committed to creating an optimal environment and offering superior services to facilitate the WTA’s growth and open a new chapter in its development.

YAO Gaoyuan, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Mayor of Hangzhou Municipal People’s Government

Mayor YAO Gaoyuan stated that, in the wake of the Asian Games, we welcome the “2023 WTA • Xianghu Dialogue”. Hangzhou is dedicated to expanding its tourism network, injecting new vitality into tourism development, and setting exemplary standards for tourism cooperation with efforts in the following aspects.

  1. Leveraging the Asian Games Legacy: Hangzhou will cooperate with the WTA to showcase the city’s international appeal, enhancing the city’s status as a hub for international events and attracting more international flights, conferences, sports events, and organizations to Hangzhou. This initiative is part of Hangzhou’s broader goal to establish itself as a world-class tourism destination.
  2. Promoting the Deep Integration of Culture and Tourism: Efforts are underway to develop world-class cultural tourism attractions, including the enhancement of the city’s World Cultural Heritage cluster, especially the cultural attractions of Song Dynasty. The city is also implementing high-level projects like the “Roads in the Poetry along the Three Rivers and Two Riverbanks”, aiming to create a harmonious development between urban and rural areas, mountains, and waters. This initiative will synergize tourism with creative arts, e-commerce, health and wellness, and educational industries, further polishing Hangzhou’s reputation as “Paradise on Earth”.
  3. Promoting Consumer Evolution and Fashion Trends: Hangzhou is set to redefine the tourism experience by integrating digital technology to create new, immersive experiences. The city plans to launch the City Walk product line, innovating a blend of online and offline, high-traffic tourism products, offering the ultimate “Trendy Hangzhou” experience.

LIU Shijun, WTA Vice Chair and Secretary-General

Mr. LIU Shijun, WTA Vice Chair & Secretary-General, expressed optimism about the future of global tourism, emphasizing its crucial role in fostering international cooperation, economic prosperity, and sustainable development. “The Power of Travel and Tourism—Towards a Better Future”, the theme of this year’s dialogue, reflects a deep belief in the transformative power of travel. LIU Shijun highlighted travel’s role as an economic catalyst, a contributor to happiness, a medium for international exchange, and a promoter of cultural diversity. It leads us towards a more splendid tomorrow, allowing us to traverse great distances, appreciate the beauty of all seasons, witness the changing world, and move towards a better future.

The 2023 WTA • Xianghu Dialogue, under the theme “The Power of Travel and Tourism—Towards a Better Future”, explored a series of pivotal topics, such as “Win-Win Cooperation: Tourism Links the World”, “Transformation and Symbiosis: Tourism Boosts Economy”, “Harmony and Sharing: Tourism Advances Sustainable Development”, “Hand in Hand: Tourism Drives Innovative Development”, “Empowerment of Science and Technology: Tourism Promotes Industrial Integration”, and “Breaking the Mould & Establishing the New: Tourism Defines the Future”. The forum included sub-forums on technology and the hotel industry, featuring keynote speeches, high-level dialogues, industry discussions, report releases, and case sharing. Guests from domestic and international tourism departments, related international organizations, tourism cities, key tourism enterprises, and OTA platforms shared insights to contribute to the sustainable development of the tourism industry, global economic growth, and human welfare. During the forum, key findings from the collaborative research report “Tourism: A Driver for Shared Prosperity” by the WTA and the United Nations World Tourism Organization were released, along with the “2023 WTA Best Practices of Rural Revitalization through Tourism”, a collaboration between the WTA and the China International Poverty Reduction Center.

(Top Left) Mr. Peter SEMONE, Chair of the Pacific Asia Travel Association

(Top Right) Mr. LIANG Jianzhang, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of Trip.com Group

(Bottom Left) Mr. CHEN Yin, Chairman of China Tourism Group Corporation Limited

(Bottom Right) Mr. Adam BURKE, WTA Vice Chair, President and CEO of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

Distinguished attendees included H.E. Mr. Dario MIHELIN, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to China, and Anne LAFORTUNE, Ambassador of the Embassy of the Republic of Seychelles in China. The event also saw the participation of DUAN Qiang, the 1st WTA Council/China Tourism Association President, along with WTA Vice Chairs Pansy HO, Eduardo SANTANDER, and XU Peng, who engaged in various activities. Prominent speakers like Peter SEMONE, Chair of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, LIANG Jianzhang, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of Trip.com Group, CHEN Yin, Chairman of China Tourism Group Corporation Limited, and Adam BURKE, WTA Vice Chair and President and CEO of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, shared their insightful perspectives. The event was attended by representatives from international organizations, diplomatic envoys, and heads of tourism offices in China from 37 countries and regions, officials from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China, leaders from Zhejiang Province and Hangzhou City, members of the WTA, and media representatives.

The “WTA • Xianghu Dialogue” is a high-level international tourism forum initiated and hosted by the World Tourism Alliance. It serves as a comprehensive public platform for connectivity and shared governance of the global tourism industry. Participants include international organizations, governments, enterprises, academia, and media. This event, now in its fourth session, has continually grown in influence, credibility, and cohesion, becoming a significant platform for exchange and cooperation in the global tourism industry.

Founded on September 11, 2017, the World Tourism Alliance is a comprehensive, non-governmental, non-profit international tourism organization initiated in China. Guided by the vision of “Better Tourism, Better Life, Better World”, the WTA is committed to promoting tourism for peace, development, and poverty alleviation through exchanges and shared governance of the global tourism sector at the non-governmental level. Currently, the WTA has 236 members from 41 countries and regions, representing influential tourism enterprises, national and regional tourism associations, tourism cities, research institutions, media, and individuals across the tourism industry. Staying focused on member needs, the WTA provides a platform for effective dialogue, information exchange, and communication aimed at resource sharing and integrated development.