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World Tourism Organization General Assembly to showcase China's position among world tourism leaders

Travel News Asia 2 September 2003

With the upcoming General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) next October, China is expected to prove its readiness to become one of the leaders in global tourism.

"This is the first time that Beijing will host the most significant international conference for the global tourism industry," said Mr. He Guangwei, Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration. "We feel very proud that China was chosen as the host country at the last session. It will help us convince the international community that our country is a safe and healthy tourist destination, especially after the SARS epidemic has been put under effective control," said Mr. He, adding "China is known for her rich historical and cultural heritage."

"Ministers responsible for tourism, industry representatives and experts from all over the world are warmly welcome to Beijing during the most pleasant period of the year. In collaboration with the WTO Secretariat, we will do our best to make the 15th Session of the General Assembly a most successful one," stated the CNTA Chairman.

"The 15th WTO General Assembly in Beijing will be a sign of confidence and support from WTO to the nation of China, to the Asian tourism industry, and to all our members in the region. The General Assembly will confirm that tourism is back on track and will soon re-emerge as it once was - a vigorous and powerful engine for economic development in the entire region", says WTO Secretary-General Mr. Francesco Frangialli. 

China was visited by almost 37 million foreign tourists in 2002, occupying fifth place on the list of the world's 15 most important destinations. The first months of 2003 showed two-digit growth, which declined sharply during the SARS epidemic. The trend improved rapidly after the World Health Organization lifted its travel warning in July, and China is expected to post gains by year's end.

By the year 2020, China is expected to become world's leading tourism destination, with some 130 million international arrivals yearly and eight per cent of the world's market share. China will also occupy the sixth position among generating markets, with some 100 million outbound tourists.

The WTO General Assembly, a summit of the world's tourism decision makers, will also serve as preparation for the Olympic Games, which will be held in the Chinese capital in 2008 and put China's growing meetings and events industry to the test.

The main task of the General Assembly will be to decide on the transformation of the Organization into a specialized agency of the United Nations. Among other events will be meetings on Sustainable Development - Eliminating Poverty, a Tourism Recovery Committee meeting, an Education Council conference and meetings by all the WTO Regional Commissions.

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) General Assembly will be held from 17 to 24 October 2003 in Beijing, China.

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