The Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), Mr. Shao Qiwei, and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, have agreed to strengthen cooperation between both organizations as a key step towards advancing China’s tourism development objectives. On the occasion of his visit to Spain to receive the UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement, Mr. Shao also met with the Minister of Industry, Energy, and Tourism of Spain, Mr. Jose Manuel Soria in Madrid on January 15, 2013.
Meeting Mr. Rifai, Chairman Shao stressed the importance of collaboration with UNWTO in achieving the new objectives of China’s tourism policy, a sector identified by the central government of China as one of the pillars of the country’s economy. “The focus in China is now on quality and sustainability. That is, while the tourism sector has grown significantly over the past years in terms of volume, the future of the sector should focus on the diversification of tourism products, on environmental protection, on the quality of the workforce, and overall quality over quantity. In this respect, UNWTO support and guidance is of the upmost importance,” said Chairman Shao.
“UNWTO is very supportive of China’s tourism strategy and is committed to supporting its tourism administration,” said Mr. Rifai, “There can be no tourism growth without responsibility and sustainability and thus, we are extremely pleased to see that China, one of the world’s major tourism destinations and source markets, is putting quality and sustainability at the heart of its tourism policy objectives.”
Since 2006, UNWTO has supported the establishment of five Sustainable Tourism Observatories in China which are at the forefront of efforts to convert UNWTO theoretical criteria on sustainable tourism into practice at the destination level.
Meeting with Minister Soria of Spain, Mr. Shao further stressed that in spite of the current deficit in China’s tourism balance due to slower growth in inbound tourism compared to outbound in 2012, the Chinese government has not changed its strategy of encouraging outbound tourism. “With 148 countries now included in the list of ‘Approved Destination Status’ (ADS), the government, and particularly CNTA, will continue to promote the traveling of Chinese people abroad as we believe in the mutual benefits of collaboration – by continuing to send Chinese travelers to Europe, the benefits will eventually flow back to China.” In 2012, 80 million Chinese traveled abroad, while 2.9 billion domestic trips were registered.
Attending the historic meeting, Mr. Rifai highlighted the role of UNWTO in bringing together two world tourism leaders. “Spain is a reservoir of tourism experience and know-how built over more than 150 years of tourism history, and China is an emerging tourism ‘giant.’ Spain can share its knowledge and experience with China, and China can share its opportunities with Spain and through its tourists benefit not only Spain, but the entire European region,” he said.