On 2 September 2019, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov met with Executive Director of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Zhu Shanzhong during his visit to Helsinki where he attended a summit of the World Tourism Cities Federation.
During their conversation, Mr Norov and Mr Shanzhong exchanged opinions on further expanding practical cooperation between both organisations under the June 2019 memorandum of understanding, signed on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Bishkek.
The SCO Secretary-General noted that the rich cultural and historical heritage of the Organisation's member states facilitated the rapid development of the regional tourism industry. "The realisation of the tourism potential will open up wide opportunities for creating jobs for young people in the region and will facilitate economic growth in member countries," he said.
SCO member states are implementing a number of measures to streamline the infrastructure and the quality of tourism services, to attract investment in this sphere and to introduce cutting-edge information technology, Mr Norov said.
The UNWTO Executive Director praised intra-SCO tourism expansion efforts and agreed that tourism had a tremendous potential for creating jobs in SCO countries where many young people live.
Mr Shanzhong noted that the SCO region boasted an ancient civilisation and pristine nature with tremendous biodiversity. Of the 1,032 World Heritage sites, 139 are located in SCO member states.
The sides also discussed the drafting and adoption of an action plan to implement the memorandum of understanding, as well as the possibility of organising joint events aimed at popularising tourism resources, projects, cultural creative products and the tourism specifics of SCO member states.