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Insights & Inspirations | Promoting Equlity, Diversity and Inclusiveness —— A Demonstration of the Leading Role of Tourism


Pansy Ho

Vice Chair of WTA
Vice Chair and Secretary-General of Global Tourism Economy Forum
Group Executive Chairman and Managing Director of Shun Tak Holdings Limited

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I am extremely delighted and honored to join you all in Hangzhou, at this memorable edition of the World Tourism Alliance, Xianghu Dialogue.

Since 2018, the WTA platform has proven to be an essential resource for our sector. Today, in the post-pandemic era, the platform is more important than ever as it provides an opportunity for “a meeting of the minds” to explore the revitalization for the tourism sector.

I. Why Tourism Plays a Leading Role

But WTA is not only a nexus for cooperation and exchanges. The mission of “Better Tourism, Better Life, and Better World” elevates our sector to a higher plane — advocating to position tourism as a tool for the development and advancement for its people including poverty alleviation and what will eventually improve people’s lives.

As tourism leaders, we all understand the commercial importance — that it accounts for 10% of global GDP, and supports 1 in 10 jobs worldwide, employing a high share of women and youth.

Nevertheless, to the world, tourism’s profound impact on the economy and society wasn’t realized until COVID-19, when everything paused.

We are entering into now a new post-pandemic era, one that presents an immense opportunities for us to reimagine travel. To fully capitalize on these opportunities, the sector must consider how to rebuild with a human-centered approach that prioritizes equity, inclusion, and diversity.
The values of the tourism sector naturally lend themselves to the mission. It is a sector dedicated to peace and mutual understanding. But this new era of travel requires turning our values into action to unleash tourism’s full potential as a driver of economic and social progress. The way we go about constructing a tourism sector that is more inclusive, diverse, and equitable can demonstrate why tourism would become a leading sector and industry.

II.Global Examples of Tourism Taking a Leading Role

Tourism is being embraced as a pillar industry all around the world, with actions to reimagine tourism taking place across the sector, and is extending and exerting its positive influence over societies and economies.

I would cite some examples, around the world, many countries indeed are using Tourism as the engine of economies and for social advancement. Saudi Arabia for instance, in their 2030 Vision initiative uses tourism as a blueprint for the country’s planning of infrastructure and also to attract international commerce and talents. Whereas in Indonesia, which is very mature in its tourism sector, very well established, is still continuing to innovate and is looking to evolve beyond a resort-based tourism experience. Tourism in these countries are being reimagined beyond travelling and site seeing, but, as the channel to attain equity, inclusiveness and diversity.
Reimagining tourism means that destinations shouldn’t be judged or constrained by typical, stereotypes notions, based on just the pre-existing tourism resources or conditions. Instead, by championing inclusivity, diversity, and equity, we can create a new tourism standard and building a new eco system.

In China, our government originated the concept of Tourism+, which empowers the tourism sector by enhancing its linkages and collective efforts with other industries and sectors, boosting participation and broadening tourism’s impact. This visionary initiative has proven the determination of the government to devise Tourism to promoting equity, diversity and inclusiveness, which has led successful efforts in poverty alleviation, safeguarding and protection of heritage, and revitalization of rural regions.

Macau, where my business is rooted, is also championing diversification to develop beyond its pillar sector, which is gaming, and to create a more sustainable “tourism+” that propels growth for the city’s future.

III.How Macau Is Building a New Tourism Ecosystem that promotes Equity, Diversity, Inclusiveness
Macau’s vision for the future is to create a completely new tourism eco-system in the next decade; this vision is encouraged by the comprehensive government policies set by our central government.

Macau is incentivizing diversified development, setting its sights beyond entertainment and gaming, fully blurring the lines between different sectors that could work in conjunctions, like MICE, arts and culture, health and wellness, sports, and retail and other creative industries.

To encourage the industry to step up their commitments. The government has outlined even new KPI to measure how the industry is working with the community. It’s not just a thought, it is very concrete. We have to meet KPIs, we will be judged on our investment value and also how it’s going to actually create value adding components. So, but we will be rewarded if we are would doing it well, we would be given tax, you know, incentives and clearly that would place us more competitive, uh, position in turn so that we can also grow our business.

So working with the community, developing the workforce mindset, honing their skillset in really crafting a more holistic process of both product development, experiences and even nurturing the young to think that their careers are no longer surrounding what they had always believe was their only choice. They need to think that they are more opportunities. So this accreditable approach is the basis for creating this new tourism eco system that is possible, which is intended to benefit from in fact tourism’s own nature of self-reinforcing and basically regenerating. That’s why we feel that this is the way to go and this is an experience we can share with others.

More importantly, why is the central government so interested to help Macau? Redefine itself, Of course, Macau is a part of China, more importantly, Macau is to be a part of Guangdong-HK-macau greater bay area. I am not going to use up a lot of your time, but just give u a context, this greater bay area GBA is an initiative, directly championing by President Xi, and it’s meant to bring together, a significant power house with 87 million people in population, reach within 1 hr travelling distance, representing already one-third of china’s GDP, and basically producing 12 some trillion annual economy activities, so bringing us together, creating a region helping each other to actually create this new eco-system, will transform the place, transfer the mindset of people about tourism, we don’t just go to GBA to take pictures any more, we go there to experience every part of it, everyday. You are going to take back new memories, new experiences, we going to see innovation, creativity that you have never seen before that it our job, that is my job.

So this inclusive but expansive approach to tourism development means that the benefit of tourism not just serve the interest of the local people, but rather broadcasting to people who are in deficiency. By sharing our resources with the Greater Bay area, which are going be 9 cities together with Hong Kong and Macau, we can provide travelers with holistic, fulfilling cultural and also of course the traditional opportunities in travel experiences, the significant potential of the GBA coupling with the government’s vision and policies are very key factor of incentivizing commitments from the private sector as well.

That’s why, during the concession tender exercise last year, we have all six of the recurrent operators successfully bidding to stay on for the next decade, each committing to continue investing in Macau. Well, I have the honor to be awarded be one of the concessions and I have made a commitment to place another 15 billion RMB or the equivalent of an extra 2.2 billion US dollars into my already existing business.

But these are not going into building more bricks and water. These are going into actually binding our commitment into actions of really bringing the right programming, the right expertise, the knowhow, so this score for also our direct dedication and engagement with the community and the people.

So investing in tourisms is interesting, investing in tourism is meaningful because it’s investing in something that everybody likes, enjoys and can benefit from. One aspect, tourism’s leading, is that it’s investing in our culture, in our own nature and in people which is going to be continuous. It would provide sustainable development and it is built on confidence and trust. That’s what makes our sector unique, that’s why we are investing tourism because of passion, because of what we think can happen and it’s not about what we are to see as profits only.

So in closing, I’d like to thank again, WTA for organizing this very important event. I’d like to say that after three years, uh, finally I’m here with so many of my peers, I have met with many of you already and exchange contacts and I would like to obviously continue growing this relation. And as you can see, because of tourism, it has brought so many of us together, especially my very good friend Zurab, who really has the faith in us and especially has the faith to my country, which is to me the most important thing.

And look forward many more collaborations with UNWTO and to hear your advice, you know, after the few days we’ll all come closer together and we’ll all work towards the same goal. We will build a better tourism, thank you.