Opening Remarks 7TH G20 Tourism Ministers meeting
Mr. Li Jinzhao, Chairman of China National Tourism Administration,
Mr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of World Tourism Organization,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to address the opening ceremony of the 7th session of the G20 Tourism Ministers Meeting.
I want to express my gratitude to the Chinese Presidency of the G20 and to the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) for convening the 7th Meeting of the G20 Tourism Ministers.
I also want to express my appreciation to the organizers for focusing on tourism as an effective tool for inclusive development.
This focus bears testimony to the changing paradigm in the tourism industry.
Tourism used to be characterized by an emphasis on leisure and service to attract customers.
While that emphasis is essential to the industry, increasingly, tourism is expanding its horizon to serve as an engine for advancing sustainable development across the world and across sectors.
We wholeheartedly welcome this transformation.
Let us look at tourism from the economic, social and environmental dimensions – that is, from the lens of sustainable development.
In economic terms, tourism has become one of the fastest growing sectors of our times.
Accounting for an estimated $7 trillion, or 10% of the world’s GDP, the global tourism sector has played an increasingly critical role in spurring growth, reducing poverty, creating jobs and generating incomes.
This trend will continue. World tourism is on track to experience sustained growth in the coming years, reaching 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals in 2030, up from 1.2 billion in 2015, according to UNWTO.
In many countries, tourism is also becoming a driving force for social inclusion, benefitting youth and women, small and medium-sized enterprises, local communities and rural populations.
In this sense, tourism is generating significant multiplier effects on social inclusion and economic empowerment.
In a positive trend, both tourism operators and tourists themselves are also becoming increasingly environmentally friendly, as seen in the growth in eco-tourism.
Across the globe, the tourism sector has become a critical pillar within national development planning and policies.
Sustainable tourism has a unique ability to connect sectors and to advance sustainable development.
In adopting the 2030 Agenda, Member States stressed the importance of tourism and included a specific target on tourism in SDG 8 – By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.
2015 was also a special year for tourism as the United Nations General Assembly decided to declare 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
In the future, I believe we will see an acceleration of the current trends in the direction of sustainable tourism, in both developed and developing countries.
In all sectors of tourism – from transport, to water and energy consumption, to the protection of natural resources, to job creation and poverty reduction – I hope to see both the tourism industry and tourists themselves practice sustainable tourism.
It is time to promote sustainable tourism, to create income opportunities for local populations, to enhance understanding and friendship between nations, to increase environmental awareness and protect the natural and cultural heritages of the destination countries.
To this end, we should strive to maximise the potential of tourism for eradicating poverty, by developing appropriate sustainable tourism strategies in co-operation with all stakeholders. This Ministerial meeting affords us the opportunity to discuss this and other related issues and to promote dialogue among all involved stakeholders.
I wish you the best in your deliberations and I look forward to the successful outcome of this meeting.