On 3 September 2019, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov met with Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori on the sidelines of the summit of the World Tourism Cities Federation.
The SCO Secretary-General thanked the Mayor for inviting him to attend the summit of the World Tourism Cities Federation. He praised the successes of Helsinki in the area of smart technology, education, tourism and environmental protection. "Your city earned a well-deserved first place in the European Capital of Smart Tourism 2019 competition. Helsinki was among the first cities to introduce the Chinese-made WeChat messaging and payments app, and this made it possible to expand tourist traffic by 38 percent," Mr Norov noted.
The SCO Secretary-General briefed Mr Vapaavuori on the SCO and the history of its development, as well as its political, economic, cultural and humanitarian activities. He noted that intra-SCO cooperation was conducted in the spirit of mutual trust, respect and benefits. "The Organisation adopts all decisions by consensus, and they are not directed against any other state or organisation," Mr Norov noted.
He told the Mayor of Helsinki about intra-SCO tourism projects, including the Eight Wonders of SCO project and the tourism cooperation programme of the SCO member states for 2019-2020.
The Mayor of Helsinki praised the SCO's activities in the cultural-humanitarian field and singled out the tremendous communications and tourism cooperation potential between Finland and the SCO member states. "Finland is the main link between Europe and Asia," Mr Vapaavuori added.
According to the Mayor, cities are the main driving force of tourism development; there are many opportunities for cooperation between Asian and European cities in this sphere. He also briefed Mr Norov on Helsinki's efforts to promote smart tourism.
The sides also discussed the possibility of cooperation in municipal administration, education, environmental protection and training specialists for the tourism industry.