Honorable Secretary-General Taleb Rifai,
Closing Remarks at the 22nd General Assembly of UNWTO
President of the 22nd General Assembly of UNWTO
(Chengdu, September 16, 2017)
Honorable Secretary-General Elect Zurab Pololikashvili,
Dear Ministers, heads of delegation,
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the host for this general assembly, the People’s Republic of China is very glad to serve over 1,000 delegates from 137 countries and regions as well as 41 international organizations in Chengdu. This gala of the international tourism industry takes place amid the rapid growth of the tourism industry in both size and status and in the face of multiple challenges, and bears special historic significance on global tourism development.
This is a high-profile conference.
His Excellency Chinese President Xi Jinping and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent their congratulatory messages to the opening ceremony, speaking highly of the role of tourism in promoting economic development, political stability and world peace and raising high expectations for the future of global tourism industry. In his congratulatory note, Xi wrote, “Tourism is a major bond between different countries and cultures, an efficient boost for the economy and the jobs market, and an important industry to improve people’s livelihood.” He hoped that “Participating countries will make the best of this conference to contribute more to global tourism development.” Mr. Guterres wrote, “Tourism is one of the most influential comprehensive industries and bears great significance for the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I hope that through the concerted efforts of tourism community, the tourism industry will become a global economic and social transforming force and a core force driving global sustainable, inclusive, fair and prosperous development.” His Excellency Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang attended and addressed the opening ceremony. He emphasized, “China is willing to open wider to and seek closer connectivity with the international market, and work with the international community in capacity building, for more reliable supply and deeper people-to-people exchange, to drive the sustainable development of the global tourism industry and contribute to world peace and prosperity.”
The conference has received much media attention worldwide, drawing journalists representing over 130 media organizations, including CNN, Euronews, Radio France Internationale, Agencia Efe, CCTV, Xinhua News Agency, China Daily and Phoenix TV. With a focus on global sustainable development, Belt and Road tourism cooperation and exchange, and the establishment of the World Tourism Alliance, the conference is believed to provide a great platform for the world tourism community to exchange experience, address common challenges and share development opportunities and map out the blueprint for global tourism development.
This is a productive conference.
First, thorough discussion was conducted on sustainable tourism for development.
The United Nations has set the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and declared the year of 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The tourism industry – a green, fast-growing industry that connects many sectors – is a natural drive for sustainable development. This conference focused on the current situation and prospects of sustainable tourism for development, pooled global wisdom, and devised plans for sustainable tourism development. We are glad to see different countries promote sustainable tourism development in ways that suit their own national conditions, understand the importance, necessity and urgency of sustainable tourism and reach extensive consensus in this regard. Together we planted trees as a symbol of sustainable tourism development and our friendship and unveiled the monument dedicated to this conference.
Second, the “Belt and Road” Tourism Ministers’ Forum was held. The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping four years ago. It has been warmly responded by over 100 countries and international organizations and produced extensive consensus since then. At the High Level Segment on Belt and Road Tourism Cooperation, tourism ministers and tourism professionals fully recognized the initiative and conducted in-depth discussion on this theme. All participants agreed that the initiative could bring different industries together, help combat poverty, develop economy, create jobs and promote social stability and harmony. The Chengdu Initiative on Belt and Road Tourism Cooperation was issued, boosting our confidence in future Belt and Road tourism cooperation.
Third, the World Tourism Alliance was founded.
In the witness of over 1,000 delegates, the World Tourism Alliance was officially established in Chengdu. In his congratulatory message, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasized that: “The tourism industry is the biggest, fastest-growing and most-connected comprehensive industry in the world,” “to promote balanced and inclusive tourism development in different regions, the government needs to advance tourism cooperation and give play to the role of the private sector and make the best of wisdom and resources of global tourism industry.” and “Chinese government will actively support and create more space for the development of the Alliance and welcomes all parties concerned to join us as constructive players in improving the global tourism governance system.” The World Tourism Alliance is a global, comprehensive, non-governmental, non-profit international tourism organization. Following the vision of “Better Tourism, Better World", WTA will work with the UNWTO as two wheels driving global tourism exchange and cooperation at the governmental and non-governmental levels. We are glad to hear that many tourism ministers will encourage their domestic tourism companies to join the WTA. As the Founder of WTA, I sincerely welcome tourism enterprises and associations of all countries to join this newly established international organization based on free will.
Fourth, the next UNWTO Secretary-General was elected successfully.
During the general assembly, all members jointly appointed the next UNWTO Secretary-General. I’m glad that all delegates have had candid discussions and voiced opinions freely, exercised rights by the UNWTO Statutes and Rules of Procedure and agreed on the appointment. For one more time let’s give our congratulations to Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili!
This is a democratic and united conference.
I am glad to see that the UNWTO wins unanimous recognition from members for its open, transparent work process. The members’ right to express, right to vote and right to know were fully respected and the voting results reflected the consensus of all members. In particular, at the session on September 14, we worked out the differences through discussion and reached the final consensus unanimously by acclamation, an established tradition of the UNWTO. During the session, delegates called for joint efforts of all members for global tourism development. We are a family, regardless of our nationality, religion of origin and race.
As this general assembly successfully concludes, I would like to make some acknowledgments.
First, I want to thank Secretary-General Taleb Rifai for his outstanding, wonderful and valuable contribution to the global tourism development. And again congratulations, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, our next Secretary-General. I hope that you will carry on the good tradition of UNWTO with your full dedication, serve sincerely all the members and shoulder firmly on the responsibilities, so as to take us further toward sustainable development of global tourism.
Second, I want to thank all the delegations, ministers and delegates for your support.
Third, I want to thank the international community for supporting China’s tourism development. China stands ready to cooperate with the rest of the world and to contribute to global tourism development.
Fourth, my special thanks go to the Province of Sichuan and the City of Chengdu for their hard work.
Last but not least, my thanks also go to all the journalists, to all the staff for helping with activity planning, organization and execution, and all the volunteers and hotel staff for their services.
I hope this general assembly has left you all with beautiful memories, and look forward to getting together with you again in St. Petersburg, Russia in two years.
Now, I declare the 22nd General Assembly of UNWTO is closed! Thank you!