Congratulatory message of the UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai (To be delivered by Xu Jing, Executive Secretary and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific on the occasion of the World Tourism Cities Federation Chongqing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2016)

Publish Time:2016-09-08 17:32:52

【Introduction】:On the occasion of the World Tourism Cities Federation Chongqing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2016...

On the occasion of the World Tourism Cities Federation Chongqing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2016, and in celebration of the 5th anniversary of its foundation, I would like to extend my congratulations to WTCF for its significant contribution to the development of city tourism around the world.

Tourism continues to be a dynamic and resilient sector. International tourist arrivals grew by 5 percent in 2015 reaching nearly 1.2 billion. Despite ongoing challenges, international tourism continues to grow strongly contributing to economic growth and development in nations all around the world.

As we gather in the historic and beautiful city of Chongqing, allow me to stress the growth of tourism in Asia and the Pacific. In 2015, a total of 279 million international tourists travelled within the region, 6 percent more than the year before. This positive trend has continued in 2016, with numbers raising another 8 percent in the first four months of the year. Much of this increase is due to China, which continues to lead global outbound travel, increasing by an incredible 10 percent in 2015.

Cities are among the world's greatest tourism destinations. UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to reach 1.8 billion by 2030 up from the current 1.2 billion registered in 2015. As international tourism continue to grow, cities are likely to be the destinations most impacted. The efforts of WTCF and its core vision of “better city life through tourism” are significant to harnessing the power of tourism in cities around the world.

UNWTO and WTCF share a common vision on the importance of tourism as a priority in the urban agenda at a global level. In this regard, UNWTO has several new initiatives to foster innovation and exchange in city tourism.

On November 1st, UNWTO will launch the City Tourism Network during the UNWTO Global Summit on City Tourism in Luxor, Egypt. The UNWTO City Tourism Network aims to be a platform for developing and implementing initiatives for cities across the globe.

A key aspect of the City Tourism Network will be the ‘Mayors for Tourism Initiative’, which will be open to any interested mayor from any city of any size. Through the Mayors for Tourism Initiative, cities will be able to share best practices in navigating the challenges and opportunities that tourism presents to local administrations. The first meeting will be held on the occasion of the launch of the Initiative in Luxor.

The joint efforts of UNWTO and WTCF are crucial for the acknowledgment of tourism as a driving force for development. Our partnership is more important than ever. In 2015, UNWTO and WTCF signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen our strategic partnership and embark on a joint research programme on tourism city performance. Collaborating in this area of research will promote city tourism through case studies.

We look forward to moving forward with the joint research programme and trust it will provide relevant information that will enable cities around the world to continue making tourism a vehicle for cultural exchange and prosperity.

Once again, I would like to congratulate the World Tourism Cities Federation on your achievements in the past five years in developing and promoting cities as international tourism destinations. The success of the Chongqing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2016 is a testimony to the role of cities in the sustainable development of the tourism sector.

To close, allow me to invite you all to join us in celebrating 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as declared by the United Nations General Assembly. This will be a unique opportunity to jointly promote the contribution of tourism to development and a better future for all.

Taleb Rifai

Strategic Partner

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