Last week, Tom Jenkins, the CEO of the European Tourism Association (ETOA), participated in the panel discussion ‘Sustaining Sustainability” at the World Tourism Alliance Dialogue in Hangzhou, China.
He said: ” It was an excellent opportunity to share ETOA’s point of view on this topic and exchange with other prominent players in the European tourism industry, including Eduardo Santander Fernández-Portillo PhD, Executive Director/ CEO, European Travel Commission.
Tom Jenkins, a Tourism Hero of the World Tourism Network, is correct.
The World Tourism Alliance membership is impressive by any standard and has the full support of the Chinese Government.
The “2023 WTA • Xianghu Dialogue” is seen as a prestigious event in the global tourism industry and was inaugurated in Hangzhou, where the headquarters of the World Tourism Alliance (WTA) is based.
The World Tourism Alliance is a comprehensive global, non-governmental, and nonprofit tourism organization established in China, and held its inaugural ceremony on Sept. 12, 2017, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, at a Gala Dinner at a very controversial World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Summit in Chengdu in 2017.
UNWTO had problems attracting members from countries such as the United States, the UK, and private industry leaders in 2017.
China, the host of the UNWTO General Assembly, was well aware of it. With a bit of help from China, the current UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili was confirmed, even though his opponent, Dr. Walter Mzembi, was able to demonstrate manipulation and fraud.
With more help from the same source, Zurab Pololikashvili will run for an unheard third term as Secretary General next year.
In the meantime, the World Tourism Alliance will be the best-positioned and, by far, most powerful organization in the world in the global travel and tourism industry, all controlled and courtesy by China.
No lack of Surprises at the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu 2017
On the other hand, the most significant players in global tourism were positioned as part of this new alliance that managed to overcome all the obstacles UNWTO had in attracting members, such as the United States. China had the power and the numbers. World tourism was unthinkable at the time without China – and still is.
Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China sent a congratulatory letter on the founding of WTA in 2017 said:
With its mission and vision of a “Better Tourism, Better Life, Better World,” WTA is committed to promoting tourism for peace, development, poverty alleviation, and driving global tourism exchanges and cooperation at the non-governmental level.
The WTA membership comprises national or regional tourism associations, influential tourism or tourism-related enterprises, tourism destinations, non-profit organizations, academia, media, and individuals. Positioning itself as a service-orientated international organization that caters to the needs of its members, WTA aims to create platforms for dialogue, networking, cooperation, ideas and information, resource sharing, and communication for integrative development.
World Tourism Alliance Hosts the 2023 Xianghu Dialogue in Hangzhou
The opening ceremony was attended by distinguished guests, including ZHANG Xu, WTA Chair; RAO Quan, Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China; ZHAO Cheng, Member of the Standing Committee and Director-General of the Publicity Department of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee, China; and YAO Gaoyuan, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Mayor of Hangzhou Municipal People’s Government. LIU Shijun, WTA Vice Chair & Secretary-General, presided over the ceremony.
In his speech, Mr. ZHANG Xu acknowledged the significance of tourism as a key indicator of people’s improved living standards in the rapidly changing world, reiterating the historical role of tourism as a bridge for spreading civilization, exchanging cultures, and fostering friendships.
He highlighted the current global transformations and the increasing interdependence of international communities.
“In these pivotal times, we must remain steadfast, resilient, and patient, allowing the tourism industry to continue playing a crucial role in blending tradition with modernity and fostering symbiotic growth between culture, tourism, and the economy,” Zhang stated.
The Xianghu Dialogue, focusing on cooperation, transformation, co-creation, sharing, empowerment, and gathering momentum, aims to explore the potential of tourism in connecting the world, boosting economies, fostering innovation, promoting industry integration, and accelerating sustainable, high-quality development.
He hoped guests from international organizations, politics, the tourism industry, and academia worldwide would contribute their insights and experiences to foster responsible and sustainable tourism.
RAO Quan, Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China
Mr. RAO Quan pointed out the significant role of tourism, one of the largest comprehensive industries globally, as a “strong engine” and “ballast stone” for stabilizing the economy, creating jobs, improving people’s livelihoods, and boosting confidence.
He emphasized the Chinese government’s strong commitment to developing the tourism sector, continuously enhancing policy support, diversifying product offerings, and unlocking consumer potential.
Efforts to develop mass tourism, smart tourism, green tourism, and civilized tourism have been intensified, leading to significant achievements in integrating culture and tourism.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China is committed to working with international organizations, tourism departments, and industry professionals worldwide to improve bilateral and multilateral tourism exchange and cooperation mechanisms.
This includes leveraging the roles of the World Tourism Alliance, the International Tourism Alliance of Silk Road Cities, and other international bodies to strengthen policy coordination, market development, product supply, talent development, and information sharing.
RAO Quan expressed hope for the WTA to leverage its local advantages and global integration to successfully organize the Xianghu Dialogue and other flagship events, enhancing the Alliance’s visibility, expanding its global network, and contributing significantly to global tourism governance and world economic cooperation.
ZHAO Cheng, Member of the Standing Committee and Director-General of the Publicity Department of the CPC Zhejiang Provincial Committee
Mr. ZHAO Cheng expressed pride in Zhejiang’s reputation as a land of fish and rice, silk and tea, rich cultural heritage, and a prime tourist destination. He emphasized the province’s unique blend of natural landscapes and cultural tourism resources, its deep historical roots, and its role as a cradle of Chinese civilization.
Over the years, Zhejiang has enhanced its tourism brand by integrating culture and tourism, fostering new strengths in innovative development and enhancing the sense of fulfillment among its people.
The province’s tourism industry accounted for one-eighth of its total economic output in 2022. The signing of the agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province on January 17 this year, followed by the grand opening ceremony of the WTA headquarters in Hangzhou on February 24, marked a significant milestone, solidifying Zhejiang’s role in the global tourism landscape.
This session of Xianghu Dialogue, themed “The Power of Travel and Tourism—Towards a Better Future”, aligns with the post-pandemic recovery of the tourism industry and the people’s expectations for a better life, providing a platform for consensus-building and deepened cooperation.
As the host for the WTA headquarters, Zhejiang is committed to creating an optimal environment and offering superior services to facilitate the WTA’s growth and open a new chapter in its development.
AO Gaoyuan, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Mayor of Hangzhou Municipal People’s Government
Asian Games 2023 – the trigger.
Mayor YAO Gaoyuan stated that, in the wake of the Asian Games, we welcome the “2023 WTA • Xianghu Dialogue”. Hangzhou is dedicated to expanding its tourism network, injecting new vitality into tourism development, and setting exemplary standards for tourism cooperation with efforts in the following aspects.