A world conference on tourism cooperation and development, Rebuilding World Tourism for Prosperity, hosted by the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) was held as part of the China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing on 5 September.
As many as 200 member organisations from over 150 cities in 75 countries took part in the online broadcast of the conference.
Minister of Culture of the People's Republic of China Hu Heping and Chairman of WTCF Council and Mayor of Beijing Chen Jining delivered opening addresses.
The SCO Deputy Secretary-General Sherali Jonon read out SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov's greetings where he made the following points.
The positive nature of cooperation between the SCO Secretariat and the WTCF on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding on promoting cultural contacts and tourism was pointed out with satisfaction. At the same time, it was stated that rebuilding the tourism industry after the pandemic will be possible only after lifting the quarantine measures and other types of restrictions on freedom of movement and economic activity, while maintaining strict security measures and ensuring public health. Attention was drawn to the Recommendations for Global Tourism Recovery prepared by UNWTO on May 28, 2020, which outline the priority goals and provide a detailed description of the actions by all the responsible structures and bodies, including air carriers involved in the provision of the private sector's hotel services, tour operators and travel agencies, structures and organisations operating in the sphere of public events, as well as companies engaged in ensuring safe tourism.
It is believed that the tourism industry can become the driver behind economic recovery and the restoration of the "pre-pandemic" level of the economy and its future growth. "In this regard, it can be noted that the SCO member states are implementing a variety of programmes to support the economy, including its most affected sectors, such as tourism, transport of all types, hotel business, etc.," the SCO Secretary-General pointed out in his address. During his address, the SCO Secretary-General gave China as an example, which shows that the tourism industry can be successfully expanded using modern technology providing contact-free services such as virtual tours, cloud exhibitions, etc.
It was also reported that on 22 May 2020, the heads of the SCO member states' tourism administrations approved a Joint Action Plan for cooperation in tourism for 2012-2022, which will boost cooperation and interaction between the stakeholders.
In this context, it was noted that the SCO member states attach great importance to strengthening cultural ties and mutual understanding between the peoples, respecting the traditions and customs of the member states, preserving and promoting cultural diversity, studying and preserving the cultural and natural heritage of the region, including along the historical Great Silk Road.
"The potential of cultural contacts and the development of tourism not only between our countries, but on a global scale as well, is quite significant," the address reads. "The list of tangible and intangible UNESCO World Heritage Sites includes 143 sites in the SCO member states, and this number is increasing every year. In order to spread the rich historical and cultural heritage, to promote the image and country brands of the SCO member states, the Secretariat has developed and successfully implemented a cycle of presentations titled "Eight Wonders of the SCO" in Beijing, Xi'an, St Petersburg, Helsinki and Dushanbe."
Keynote speakers at the conference included senior officials from the UN World Tourism Organisation, China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the World Travel and Tourism Council and the World Tourism Forum.
An Action Guide on Recovery and Revitalisation of City Tourism amid COVID-19 and a Report on Recovery and Development of World Tourism amid COVID-19 were released following the event. They provide an analysis and assessment of the strategy and potential for further revitalisation of the city tourism industry across the world with an eye towards creating an innovative model for recovery and rehabilitation of the urban tourism industry amid the pandemic, launching a fair platform to facilitate investment and tourism financing, and developing cooperation within the industry.
The UN World Tourism Organisation was invited to the conference as a partner. The conference was co-hosted by international associations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the World Travel and Tourism Council, the Pacific Asia Travel Association, the International Congress and Convention Association, the World Tourism Forum, the World Leisure Organisation, the World Travel Alliance, the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, the ITB Berlin and the World Travel Market.
The World Tourism Cities Federation is the first international travel organisation initiated by the Beijing City Administration to promote city tourism. The Federation was established in 2012 and includes 75 countries and regions. The number of the Federation members has gone from 58 to 223, including 148 cities and 75 organisations.