Gather Strength, Restore Confidence, and Embrace New Opportunities for Global Tourism Recovery Together

Publish Time:2023-05-16 17:20:45Source:WTCF

【Introduction】:From 9 to 11 May, the World Tourism Cities Federation Changsha Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2023 was successfully held in Changsha, China. Themed "Gathering the Strength of Cities to Revitalize World Tourism", the Summit was jointly hosted by the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) and Changsha Municipal People's Government. Five international organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), attended the summit as key supporters and partners.

From 9 to 11 May, the World Tourism Cities Federation Changsha Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2023 (hereinafter referred to as the "Summit") was successfully held in Changsha, China. Themed "Gathering the Strength of Cities to Revitalize World Tourism", the Summit was jointly hosted by the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) and Changsha Municipal People's Government. Five international organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), attended the summit as key supporters and partners. At the same time, over 400 attendees from 14 foreign embassies and consulates in China, 25 delegations of world-renowned tourism cities, and the tourism sectors of 37 countries and regions gathered in Changsha, a picturesque city endowed with magnificent natural landscapes, to discuss the ambitious plan for global tourism revitalization and development, while sharing the wisdom and strength of the industry chain of global tourism.

Diversified Highlights with a Number of Authoritative Academic Outcomes

The Summit consists of more than 20 sub-events, including a segment for keynote speeches, a special forum of ambassadors, mayors' dialogue, the release of research reports, a thematic forum, the promotion conference for tourism investment, and the segment for tourism B2B matching, attracting many significant guests with diversified highlights.

Sima Hong, Vice Mayor of Beijing Municipality, attended the opening ceremony and put forward four proposals on promoting the recovery and prosperity of world tourism. Eight ambassadors to China and four mayors of famous tourism cities worldwide shared their perspectives concerning relevant topics like international tourism city's cooperation in the post-pandemic period and innovative governance of tourism cities. The thematic forum and keynote speeches offered impressive insights and sparked brainstorming...

At the summit, WTCF and the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, jointly released the Report on World Tourism Economy Trends (2023). The report estimates that the total number of global tourist trips in 2023 will reach 10.78 billion with total tourism revenue of USD 5 trillion, recovering to 74.4% and 86.2% of the pre-pandemic levels (2019), respectively, sending an important signal of tourism revitalization. Another academic report is The Sustainable Development of World Tourism Cities in the COVID Context: The Research on Chinese Actions jointly released by WTCF and UNDP, which provides references of the Chinese solutions for the sustainable development of world tourism cities. In addition, WTCF released the Changsha Initiative, calling on tourism cities around the world to gather strength, create new impetus for tourism cities and together strive for a better future for global tourism.

During the Summit, the promotion conference for tourism investment and the segment for tourism B2B matching also took place. At the promotion conference, thanks to the pre-event communication and on-site negotiation, the initial intent on the cooperation of 13 cultural tourism programs was reached with a total investment of CNY 8.144 billion. During the segment for tourism B2B matching, the attending parties exchanged ideas on extensive business and tourism resources matching, where a total transaction amount of CNY 6.4 billion has been confirmed.

The Summit provided a platform for brainstorming, communication, and cooperation for industrial delegates from all over the world. Furthermore, it promoted the popularity of Changsha as a new member city and enhanced the international influence of WTCF as a global tourism organization.

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A photo taken during the Summit

Creating an International Platform to Discuss New Opportunities for Global Tourism Recovery

Since its founding, WTCF has been dedicated to creating platforms for closer cooperation. During the second half of 2022, WTCF hosted the World Conference on Tourism Cooperation and Development and the WTCF Latin America & the Caribbean Tourism Conference 2022 which served as the platforms for communication and cooperation of global tourism cities. This year's Summit further leveraged WTCF's role of the platform to empower and improve the efficiency of city development, and propel the post-pandemic recovery of city tourism.

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Forum of Ambassadors

At the Summit, Analisa Low, Ambassador of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to China, noted that information shortage remains a major barrier to tourism development. The summit can serve as a platform facilitating the exchange of information and experiences relevant to the tourism industry, and tackling challenges through data analysis in the research results.

Tumurtumuu Zundui, Vice Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, said on behalf of WTCF new members that the Summit has set up an excellent platform to discuss the future vision of the tourism industry as well as the current challenges, trends, and cooperation opportunities for the best solutions. He further remarked that the Summit will make outstanding contributions to tourism revitalization and future development.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), expressed her high praise for WTCF. She said that WTCF achieved extraordinary outcomes in bringing global tourism cities together, acting as a great platform to share best practices and facilitate collaboration.

Yang Haodong, a member of the Standing Committee and Director-General of the Publicity Department of the CPC Hunan Provincial Committee, stressed that the Summit, in line with the trend of world tourism development, is of great significance for strengthening exchanges and cooperation among the tourism cities around the globe, consolidating the confidence of world tourism development, and boosting economic resurrection. Yang said: "We sincerely wish to deepen and expand cooperation with tourism cities and organizations at home and abroad with the help of WTCF as an important platform, to achieve mutual benefits and win-win outcomes."

Gathering the Strength of Cities to Jointly Promote the Sustainable Development of World Tourism

Tourism relies on natural and cultural resources. Consequently, the concept of sustainable development is critical to the tourism economy. Countries and cities need to transform tourism into a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable industry that stands ready to cope with the challenges ahead.

Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China, emphasized the importance of sustainable development in tourism in his written address. "Countries and regions need to strengthen cooperation in the tourism sector. We should advocate responsible tourism to fulfill social responsibilities, such as poverty alleviation, and biodiversity and environmental protection. We must learn lessons from the pandemic instead of returning to the former tourism patterns."

In the speech titled "Meaningful Tourism as a Tool for a More Sustainable City: Tourism with a Special Focus on Chinese Outbound Travelers", Wolfgang Georg Arlt, CEO of China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, noted that the global pandemic rendered all stakeholders and practitioners in deep thoughts about how to develop tourism in a longer term. Tourism operators must develop unique products for competition on quality rather than on price. The improvement of the quality of tourism services serves as the foundation for more sustainable and positive development of the tourism industry.

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Mayors' Dialogue

Elvis Lexin La Torre Uñaccori, Mayor of Machupicchu in Peru, said that before the pandemic, Machupicchu was entirely dependent on tourism and, therefore, encountered great difficulties during the pandemic. To promote the city's comprehensive development, the government has adopted measures to protect the natural environment and cultural heritage. He pointed out that in this new era of history, Machupicchu will explore more opportunities from a new perspective and develop more business forms of tourism.

Creating New Tourism Patterns to Seek New Measures for the Development of Urban Tourism

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, the global tourism industry has been enjoying overall recovery and prosperity at an accelerating speed. Topics, such as what positive explorations have been made, what new measures have been taken by various countries, and how can global tourism seize the opportunities to seek reform and development, have attracted extensive attention from those involved in the tourism industry in the current new situation.

Considering the coexistence of challenges and opportunities for tourism cities after the pandemic, Sanya, a city in China, seizes the historical opportunity of building the Hainan Free Trade Port, concentrates on tourists' needs, and constantly develops new meanings and forms of tourism. Sun Lei, Vice Mayor of Sanya, said that the city will actively promote high-quality tourism development in three aspects. First, Sanya will vigorously develop healthcare tourism by focusing on the new relevant products including those featuring hot springs, traditional Chinese medicine, and forest healthcare. Second, Sanya will put more effort into the integration and development of its culture and tourism sectors, giving more meanings and forms to tourism through culture. Third, Sanya will intensify policy support, as evidenced by the establishment of a special fund of CNY 1 million for the compensation of tourism complaints and a mechanism of advance compensation of tourism-related complaints to make tourists in Sanya feel relieved and comfortable. In addition, the city advances the integration of tourism with science, technologies and commercial activities to enrich its tourism content and forms.

The tourism sector of Seychelles, which is also the country's biggest economic pillar, has almost recovered to the pre-pandemic level. Anne Lafortune, Ambassador of the Republic of Seychelles to China, explained Seychelles' three measures for tourism recovery. First, Seychelles reduces its dependency on conventional markets and delves into other markets, e.g. the Asian markets, especially China. In this way, more tourists have the opportunity to know this country. Second, Seychelles turns to different niche markets like sports, medical healthcare, family travel, and wedding. Third, the country provides diversified services with better quality.

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Thematic Forum

Ana María Lafuente Córdoba, Counsellor for Tourism of the Consulate General of Spain in Guangzhou, said that 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and China. This year is also the China-Spain Year of Culture and Tourism. Combining tourism and culture, Spain carries out cultural promotion activities in many cities in China. In addition, Spain is building a network of smart cities to facilitate the communication of authorities of different tourist destinations on tourism management, intelligent technologies, and the promotion of tourism in a sustainable way.

One after another, new technologies are being applied to new scenarios of tourism consumption, generating new hopes and opportunities for the world tourism industry. Robin Gou, President of, noted in his speech titled "Digital Technology Empowers Cities. Work Together to Revitalize World Tourism" that the online digital economy and offline tourism are beneficial to each other. As digital technologies empowered new consumption scenarios of various sectors over the past several years, enterprises are exploring new fields on the basis of their existing businesses, and applying new technologies like big data, cloud computing, IoT, blockchain, 5G, VR, and AR to consumption scenarios. All of these measures have improved the quality and efficiency of the traditional consumption scenarios.

Wide Media Coverage to Share the Summit's Success

The Summit was held at a critical moment for the post-pandemic tourism recovery and development. Featuring a large scale, high standards, rich content, productive outcomes, and overwhelming influence, it received affirmative comments from all the attending guests and drew wide attention from various media outlets.

According to statistics, in online news websites and social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo, the Summit-related high-frequency words include "World Tourism Cities Federation Changsha Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2023", "Gathering the Strength of Cities to Revitalize World Tourism", "Changsha, Forum of Ambassadors", "Report on Trends 2023", "Changsha, Fragrant Hills, Summit", "Changsha, fireworks", etc. The number of search results of summit-related keywords on reaches 290 million. To celebrate the success of the Summit, Changsha organized a special musical firework show that attracted 600,000 offline viewers. On that evening, "musical firework show" was among the most frequently searched words on with extensive attention from all netizens.

The Summit was reported by many media outlets like Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, Xinhuanet,, CRI Online, Beijing Radio & Television Station, Beijing Daily, and Hunan Television. Among them, the Evening News of CMG General Channel reported the grand scenes of the Summit with a focus on the Report on World Tourism Economy Trends (2023), a significant research report released by WTCF. The official websites of China's national ministries including the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People's Republic of China, and local governments like Hunan Provincial People's Government, publicized the Summit in their important positions. Furthermore, the overseas broadcast services expanded the international influence of the Summit. China Global Television Network offered live streaming and recorded broadcasts of the Summit's segments of "Forum of Ambassadors" and "Mayors' Dialogue", as well as the live streaming sessions on its overseas social media accounts on Facebook and YouTube. Journalists from Thailand, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, etc., also attended and reported on the event.

The wide coverage by the media outlets in China and other countries facilitated the promotion of the research results by WTCF globally and helped propel the post-pandemic tourism recovery.

Tourism serves as a significant channel for exchanges and mutual learning between different countries and cultures, an effective tool for economic growth and job creation, and an important sector to improve living standards. Facing the opportunities and challenges during tourism recovery, we must resort to positive communication, with concerted efforts for the common prosperity of world tourism.

"With one heart and one mind, we can accomplish everything we aspire for." In the future, WTCF will continue to carry forward the concept of "Better City Life through Tourism", pool the strength of cities, and give full play to its role as a platform. By doing so, it aims at boosting the high-quality and sustainable development of world tourism.

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