Publish Time：2022-09-15 19:15:53Source：WTCF
【Introduction】：The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously impacted the development of the world tourism industry. In the post-pandemic era, how shall we accelerate the recovery of the tourism industry and stimulate the vitality of world tourism cities? The 2022 World Conference on Tourism Cooperation and Development, hosted by the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), was held at the China National Convention Center in Beijing on 1 September 2022. As one of the seven summit forums held during the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), the conference focused on the theme of "Deepening Cooperation and Innovation for Development" and attracted more than 300 delegates from 49 countries. At this grand in-person gathering, they shared their wisdom and plans for promoting the development of world tourism cities and the revitalization and prosperity of global tourism.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously impacted the development of the world tourism industry. In the post-pandemic era, how shall we accelerate the recovery of the tourism industry and stimulate the vitality of world tourism cities? The 2022 World Conference on Tourism Cooperation and Development, hosted by the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), was held at the China National Convention Center in Beijing on 1 September 2022. As one of the seven summit forums held during the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), the conference focused on the theme of "Deepening Cooperation and Innovation for Development" and attracted more than 300 delegates from 49 countries. At this grand in-person gathering, they shared their wisdom and plans for promoting the development of world tourism cities and the revitalization and prosperity of global tourism.
A photo taken during the Conference
Building an International Platform to Facilitate World Tourism Interconnectivity
Tourism serves as a bridge to spread civilizations, exchange cultures and enhance friendships. Amid all the ups and downs during the fight against the pandemic, the world tourism recovery is still slow and fragile after the serious blow dealt by COVID-19. Tourism cities, international organizations and tourism companies should join hands to vigorously cope with the difficulties and weather the pandemic.
As the world's first city-based international tourism organization, WTCF has taken the initiative to play a leading role and worked with other international organizations to vigorously build a world tourism cooperation and exchange platform. In 2022, centered on the themes of sustainable development of world tourism cities and regional tourism recovery and revitalization in the context of the epidemic, WTCF held a briefing on the project named "The Sustainable Development of World Tourism Cities under COVID Context: The Response from China", and WTCF Conference on Asia-Pacific Tourism 2022, providing experience sharing for the comprehensive recovery and sustainable development of world tourism cities and the tourism industry. Notably, at the conference, WTCF released World Tourism Cities Development Report (2021), which defines the path for the future development of global tourism, and provides decision-making reference and intellectual support for governments, relevant cities and the tourism industry.
Rao Quan, China's Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism, acknowledged the pivotal role of WTCF in building a platform and promoting cooperation. He noted that the World Conference on Tourism Cooperation and Development which originated in 2020 "undertook the mission" in the "darkest hour" facing the tourism industry. This series of conferences are always committed to boosting the recovery and development of the tourism industry, and have offered an effective platform to deepen international exchanges and cooperation in tourism and discuss plans for world tourism development.
"The theme of this conference is clear and the timing is right." Sohail Khan, Deputy Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), said in his speech that experts from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated that international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2022 were only 39% of the 2019 level, but tourism was gradually recovering. International tourist arrivals are expected to reach 55% to 70% of the pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year, which is particularly important for countries where tourism activity revenue accounts for more than 20% of national economic development. "In the new environment, jointly promoting cooperation is the main driving force for the further recovery and development of tourism."
Oh Se-hoon, Vice Chairman of the WTCF Council and Mayor of Seoul, South Korea, believes that the conference themed "Deepening Cooperation and Innovation for Development" will provide new ideas for exploring the future development trends of tourism and offer an opportunity to revitalize the world tourism industry.
At the end of 2021, the State Council of China issued a development plan for the tourism sector during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), which made systematic arrangements for improving the open tourism cooperation system, and specifically mentioned the need to fully leverage the role of international organizations such as WTCF in spurring world tourism development. Li Baochun, Executive Deputy Secretary-General of WTCF, pointed out in a media interview that WTCF will, under the guidance of the plan, more vigorously build an international exchange and cooperation platform for world tourism cities, bolster the exchanges and cooperation between its member units and relevant cities and institutions, and play a bigger role on the international stage through brand building and deepening academic research.
Special Forum: Perspectives on Tourism Cooperation from Ambassadors
Pooling Global Wisdom to Advance the Recovery and Revitalization of World Tourism
The recovery of tourism cities is the key to world tourism revitalization. In the context of pandemic prevention and control, countries around the world are strenuously exploring and seeking new breakthroughs in tourism development and revitalization. Chen Jining, Chairman of the WTCF Council and Mayor of Beijing, stated that Beijing, as an important tourism city, attached great importance to the recovery and development of tourism. Since last year, Beijing has been ramping up its efforts to coordinate and enhance pandemic prevention and control and socio-economic development. The city has firmly grasped opportunities opened up through holding major events such as the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, to deeply explore the connotations of the capital's culture and tourism resources, taken 18 relief measures to support the recovery and development of tourism and other industries, introduced boutique tourism routes like "Wandering Beijing" and "Roaming Beijing's Suburbs", built a number of new cultural tourism landmarks such as Universal Beijing Resort and Chang'an Mills in Shougang Park, and launched red tourism destinations including the Red Building at Peking University and the revolutionary memorial site in Fragrant Hills. "These measures have remarkably boosted the recovery and development of the tourism industry. In 2021, the city received 255 million visits, and the tourism revenue reached 416.62 billion yuan (60.3 billion U.S. dollars). The two figures increased by 38.8% and 43% year on year respectively."
Anne Lafortune, Ambassador of the Republic of Seychelles to China, shared a variety of effective measures her country had taken to safely open its borders and promote tourism recovery. "First, the Ministry of Health issued a series of guiding requirements that accommodation and dining establishments must meet before they can be certified Green and allowed to accept incoming tourists." Second, Seychelles has developed an approval mechanism for travel health certification, which requires visitors to log on to the application platform with information about their reservations and other health documents needed for entry. In addition, Seychelles promotes universal vaccination to achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible. Anne Lafortune also talked about online promotional efforts to showcase the natural beauty of Seychelles while the borders were still closed. "We want to tell global potential visitors to start dreaming about the beauty of Seychelles now and then turn their dreams into reality." The endeavor will ensure that people are willing to come back to Seychelles when it gradually opens up to tourists again as a traditional tourist country.
South Africa's tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Siyabonga C. Cwele, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to China, highlighted the tourism recovery strategies being implemented: first, ensuring the smooth supply of infrastructure; second, promoting or stimulating demand for tourism; third, other supportive policies including establishing a fund to assist small-sized tourism businesses in tackling the pandemic, issuing e-visas, and creating innovative platforms for global promotion.
Melissa Pryce, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of Jamaica in China, noted that aiming to better cope with market demand changes and realize targeted solutions to tourism development amidst the pandemic, Jamaica had set up special working teams and even launched "Resilient Corridors" and a "CARE Programme". These measures have yielded positive results in practice.
Strengthening Cooperation and Innovation to Jointly Create a Better Future for World Tourism
In the process of promoting the recovery of the world tourism economy, where should countries and relevant international organizations strengthen cooperation and innovative development so as to tide over the current difficulties facing international tourism development?
"China is one of the strongest members of SCO, and we think tourism is one of the main sectors where we need to cooperate with China," said Sohail Khan, Deputy Secretary-General of SCO. "China's Xinjiang is bordered by four of our member states. If there is sustained cooperation with Xinjiang in tourism, it will bring good results, including the opening of direct flights." He believes it will give tourists from neighboring countries more opportunities to come to China and better experience its beautiful scenery and culture.
Natalia Francisca Cortés García, Trade Commissioner of the Embassy of Chile in China, shared an example of cooperation: a scenic spot in the desert region of northern Chile is shared by Chile, Bolivia and Peru, and tourists who come to this place can visit all three countries. Melissa Pryce, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of Jamaica in China, introduced the tourism cooperation between China and Jamaica. She said China was the first country where Jamaica granted a preferential visa-free policy to tourists, and the two sides are also negotiating an aviation agreement. She believes that cooperation in civil aviation will attract more Chinese tourists to Jamaica. Li Xinjian, Professor of Beijing International Studies University and WTCF Expert, suggested, "Impacted by the pandemic, international tourism cooperation should not simply be limited to the short and medium term, but focus on long-term development."
Hallam Henry, Ambassador of Barbados to China, believes that effective cooperation can be formed either by signing a memorandum of understanding at the government level or through people-to-people exchanges. He noted that more partnerships will make the tourism industry more resilient and sustainable. He further proposed creating unique travel experiences, such as adopting story-telling marketing methods to bring people all-new experiences.
Zhuang Zhuoran, Vice President of Alibaba Group and President of Fliggy, shared his thoughts on the development of world tourism in the next decade from the perspective of digital innovation. First, digital platforms can serve tourism cities and link them together, and integrate resources of industries like tourism, culture, food and beverage retail, agriculture, to create a sustainable operation mode of digital services. On the other hand, such platforms can help tourism businesses with real direct sales, and out of the plight of low repurchase rates and high long-term costs. Meanwhile, referring to the cooperation cases with Pinggu, Marriott International, and Universal Beijing Resort, Zhuang Zhuoran systematically elaborated on the vital role digitalization played in supporting the survival and transformation of the tourism industry.
On August 31, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the 2022 CIFTIS. He stressed that China was ready to work with other countries to uphold real multilateralism, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and jointly promote the open and shared services economy to inject impetus into the recovery of the global economy. As a typical comprehensive industry, tourism plays a pivotal role in the revitalization and development of the global economy, and a full recovery relies on the united efforts and joint cooperation of all stakeholders. Only by working together can we go through stormy seas, and only through win-win cooperation can we usher in a promising future. It is believed that with the efforts of all parties represented by WTCF, the world tourism industry will surely enter an era of prosperity and revitalization.