Xi: Tourism im­por­tant for progress

Pres­i­dent ad­dresses let­ter to UN or­ga­ni­za­tion meet­ing in Chengdu

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO XINYING in Chengdu zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China, with long his­tory, rich cul­ture and beau­ti­ful scenery, wel­comes tourists from all over the world, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said in a con­grat­u­la­tory let­ter to an in­ter­na­tional tourism meet­ing on Wed­nes­day.

“Tourism is an im­por­tant chan­nel for dif­fer­ent coun­tries and cul­tures to com­mu­ni­cate with each other, an ef­fec­tive way of de­vel­op­ing a coun­try’s econ­omy and a key in­dus­try to im­prove peo­ple’s lives,” he said in the let­ter to the 22nd Gen­eral Assem­bly of the United Na­tions World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The bi­en­nial of­fi­cially kicked off on Wed­nes­day in Chengdu, cap­i­tal of Sichuan province. Ac­tiv­i­ties started on Mon­day and the event runs through Satur­day.

More than 1,000 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 130 coun­tries and re­gions are at­tend­ing the meet­ing to dis­cuss us­ing sus­tain­able tourism as a de­vel­op­ment tool and re­in­forc­ing Belt and Road tourism co­op­er­a­tion.

Xi said China pays great at­ten­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of the tourism in­dus­try, which ac­counts for more than 10 per­cent of the coun­try’s econ­omy and em­ploy­ment. In the next five years, Chi­nese tourists will make 700 mil­lion out­bound trips.

He said the UNWTO plays a pos­i­tive role in pro­mot­ing the de­vel­op­ment of global tourism and strength­en­ing in­ter­na­tional tourism co­op­er­a­tion.

"We hope all na­tions can uti­lize the op­por­tu­ni­ties of the meet­ing and push the tourism in­dus­try glob­ally for greater de­vel­op­ment to­gether,” he said.

Vice-Premier Wang Yang, who at­tended the meet­ing, said China joined the UNWTO in 1983. Tourism has grown from a mar­ginal to a ma­jor in­dus­try for the coun­try’s econ­omy dur­ing the past three and a half decades, Wang said.

But China is not a “tourism power” yet, he said, and needs fur­ther de­vel­op­ment through ex­panded, deep­ened co­op­er­a­tion.

Taleb Ri­fai, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the UNWTO, said China has be­come a world leader in all paths of life over the past decade and tourism is no ex­cep­tion.

“It is very in­spir­ing to see China’s com­mit­ment to in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion and tourism at the high­est level,” he said.

Li Jin­zao, di­rec­tor of China Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has cre­ated a larger tourism mar­ket among coun­tries in­volved. There were at least 25 mil­lion tourist trips be­tween China and other coun­tries in­volved in the ini­tia­tive in 2014 alone.

An ini­tia­tive for tourism co­op­er­a­tion among na­tions in­volved in the ini­tia­tive was formed dur­ing the meet­ing to im­prove tourism fa­cil­i­ta­tion and qual­ity and to face chal­lenges and risks to­gether.

“The Chengdu ini­tia­tive sets out how we can har­ness tourism’s po­ten­tial and share our re­sources through large-scale part­ner­ships to cre­ate a bet­ter fu­ture,” Ri­fai said.

AN YUAN / CHINA NEWS SER­VICE

UN World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion assem­bly at­ten­dees look over pro­mo­tional prod­ucts in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Wed­nes­day.

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