In this March 15, 2015 photo, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at a press conference after the closing meeting of the third session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China. Premier Li on Sept 13, 2017 stresses the importance of cooperation in global tourism development. (XIE HUANCHI / XINHUA)
BEIJING / CHENGDU - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday stressed the importance of cooperation in global tourism development, saying that China would play a constructive role in driving sustainable growth in the area.
I believe the World Tourism Alliance would help create a new platform and new opportunities for the sector's sustainable development
Li Keqiang, Premier, China
In a congratulatory letter to the launch of the World Tourism Alliance on Tuesday, Li highlighted the significance of tourism for its contribution in boosting consumption and employment, supporting economic growth and facilitating exchanges between countries.
The premier said further cooperation and joint efforts were needed for more balanced and inclusive development in the tourist areas, demanding active participation from governments, private associations and businesses.
"I believe the World Tourism Alliance would help create a new platform and new opportunities for the sector's sustainable development," Li said in the letter.
The World Tourism Alliance, a global network linking non-governmental players in the industry, was set up in China on Tuesday. It was formed by 89 founding members, mainly national tourism associations, tourist enterprises and think tanks from around the world.
China proposed the alliance, in which it is represented by 21 businesses, six associations, one research institute and one media organization.
According to United Nations World Tourism Organization, the number of global travelers will exceed 1.8 billion by 2030. China is considered the world's fastest growing tourism market and will play a key role in the sector's development.
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Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang speaks during the closing ceremony of a seminar on investment and business opportunities in Brazil held in Beijing, capital of China, Sept 2, 2017. (DING HAITAO / XINHUA)
China urges efforts to tap developing countries' tourism potential
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on Wednesday called on countries to help unleash the potential in tourism growth in developing countries.
Wang made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the 22nd session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan and the economic center of western China.
Wang said China will continue to support tourism development in developing countries while urging rich nations to help developing countries reach balanced development in global tourism.
The Chinese vice premier also said China is ready to align the Belt and Road Initiative with related plans in developing countries to help promote local tourism, which he said has been a bottleneck to their tourism development. The China-proposed Initiative aims to build infrastructure and trade networks along ancient trade routes in a bid to spur economic growth in participating countries.
More than 1,000 delegates, including tourism ministers from more than 130 countries attended the opening ceremony. Among the tourism ministers, 36 are from Africa. "Africa is an increasingly important force in the global tourism market. The continent is rich in cultural resources," Abdoulaya Ndiaye, assistant to UNWTO official responsible for Africa, told Xinhua.
In a congratulatory message read by Wang at the opening ceremony, Chinese President Xi Jinping wished the biennial UNWTO event a great success, and stressed that tourism is an "important channel" for mutual learning and cultural exchanges between countries, as well as an "important industry" for promoting growth, creating jobs and improving people's livelihoods.
UNWTO chief Taleb Rifai said at the opening ceremony that countries should use tourism as an opportunity to address global challenges in order to enable the sector to contribute more to global growth and peace.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed in a congratulatory message the hope that the tourism conference, held during the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, will "chart the sector's course in helping to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."
On Wednesday, tourism ministers also discussed issues related to sustainable development and the role of tourism at an open-door session. In addition, ministers from countries along the Belt and Road met and discussed enhancing cooperation in tourism development.
UNWTO has currently more than 150 members. The Madrid-based organization will also produce its next secretary general at the global tourism gathering that will last through Sept 16. The last session of UNWTO general assembly was held in Medellin, Colombia.