UNWTO chief hails 'conducive' discussions on sustainable tourism under Belt and Road Initiative

Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Taleb Rifai said here Wednesday that the high-level discussions brought conducive results on how China's Belt and Road Initiative can help promote sustainable tourism.

"We had very conducive ministerial roundtable talks on relationship between tourism and development in the conditions of UN Sustainable Development goals, as well as on Belt and Road Initiative," Rifai told the press.

The Belt and Road Initiative, put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, is aimed at building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road through concerted efforts of all related countries to benefit all participants by promoting unimpeded trade, financial integration, infrastructure connectivity and closer people-to-people exchanges.

According to representatives from various countries, progress have been made under the initiative, while issues on tourism cooperation within the framework were discussed, including visa policy, insurance, transportation, facilitation and security.

"With the same goal (of sustainable development of global tourism), ministers presented different perspectives during practical discussions on tourism and sustainable development," said Li Jinzao, director of the China National Tourism Administration.

The high-level segment themed "Building Partnerships for Development: the Example of the Belt and Road Initiative" can be seen as a successful follow-up on the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing this May, Li said when co-hosting the press conference with Rifai.

The Belt and Road Initiative broadened the global tourism market, as countries along the route account for over 70 percent of global travel business, Li said. It also shifted part of governments' focus onto tourism, making tourism resources more valuable, while cooperation under the initiative also suit the convenience of travellers.

The Chengdu initiative on tourism cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed after the high-level segment of the UNWTO general assembly.

The Chengdu initiative called on all UNWTO members to strengthen tourism cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative through policy coordination, mechanism establishment, joint media promotion, personnel exchanges, as well as joint security risk response.

According to Li, it is important that regional comprehensive cooperation be enhanced to develop tourism systematically, while supportive policies should be coordinated to counter security threats like terrorism and cross-border crime, to deepen the connectivity among UNWTO members, to create more travel routes and to maintain sustainable development of global tourism.

The 22nd UNWTO General Assembly, a bi-annual event, was held in China's southwestern city of Chengdu Wednesday and will last for three days.

Over 1,000 delegates from more than 130 countries will discussed how tourism can contribute to the UN Sustainable Development goals, as well as tourism cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Editor: zhangjunmian