Last week's 6th UNWTO International Meeting on
Silk Road Tourism highlighted the increasing interest in
developing cultural routes associated with the Silk Road, and
succeeded to raise the profile of tourism along this emblematic
The event was jointly organized by UNWTO, the
China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the People’s
Government of Gansu Province and was held 1-3 August 2013 in
Topics discussed ranged from heritage
management, investment, travel facilitation and product
development, with aims to establish the Silk Road as one of the
world´s most outstanding travel routes.
As the largest Silk Road event to ever take
place in China, the meeting marked the opening of the 3rd Dunhuang
Silk Road International Tourism Festival, which showcased cultural
festivals and events.
The province of Gansu, in China´s northwest
region, has prioritized tourism as a key pillar for economic
growth. For centuries, the province was the vital corridor between
China and Central Asia and comprised about 1,600 kilometers of the
UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai,
acknowledged the strength and commitment of the People’s
Government of Gansu Province for hosting the meeting in the wake
of the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that hit Dingxi in Gansu´s
southeast region ten days before.
“In welcoming the international
tourism community to Dunhuang at such a difficult time, Gansu has
impressed the delegates not only with its outstanding tourism
offer but with its courage and dedication to supporting the
sector,” he said.
The meeting showcased China's diverse range of
Silk Road destinations while highlighting the growing importance
of the Chinese outbound market, expected to reach 93 million by
the end of 2013.
Tourism is playing an increasing role in China's
ongoing economic development, with double-digit growth of domestic
tourism and the China Tourism Law set to be enacted on 1 October.
“Our continued policy aimed at encouraging Chinese nationals to
travel is designed to contribute to the healthy development of the
sector and softening the social and economic concerns in other
parts of the world,” said Shao Qiwei, Chairman of the China
National Tourism Administration.
During the meeting, the Chinese Chamber of
Tourism, along with eight of the country´s most influential
tourism corporations, signed the private sector’s commitment to
the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics, by which companies pledge to
implement the ethical provisions of the Code in their policies,
plans and business operations.
With a record level of presence from Asia and
the Pacific destinations, the meeting was attended by over 250
delegates from 25 countries across the Silk Road. A special
official welcome was given to new Silk Road Member States,
Indonesia and San Marino. Also present were representatives from
major institutions and UN agencies including the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the
World Bank, PATA, the
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the
International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the
Council of Europe.
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