The Future of World Tourism Relies on China UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai Visits CNTA
On May 15, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, who attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), visited China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and held an in-depth talk with CNTA Chairman Li Jinzao, speaking highly of the achievements of China’s tourism in recent years.
Li extended his welcome to Taleb Rifai for his attendance of the BRF. He said, Chinese President met with state leaders during the BRF, with an aim of further promoting the integration between the “Belt & Road” Initiative and development strategies of other countries and jointly making achievements for pragmatic cooperation. Tourism is the best approach to strengthen the “people-to-people” bonds and plays a vital role in “Belt & Road” international cooperation.
Taleb Rifai said, BRF is an important international event, and the keynote speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the BRF showed the foresight and sagacity of Chinese leaders. The spiritual essence advocated by the “Belt & Road” Initiative is of great significance for the current development of the world. Tourism plays an important role in promoting cooperation and exchange among different countries in the world and shows the charm of peaceful development.
At the press conference after the meeting, Li Jinzao delivered a passionate speech in Chinese and English. He said that the global financial crisis hit the tourism industry hard a decade ago. In 2008 and 2009, the world tourism industry hit the bottom over the last decade after 15 months’ negative growth. Against such a backdrop, Mr. Taleb Rifai rose to the challenge and took up the post of Secretary-General of UNWTO in October 2009. Under his leadership, UNWTO set the trend of the world’s tourism development and has become the most influential international tourism organization. Over the past eight years, the number of outbound travelers and tourist income rose by more than 40%, the governments of all countries increasingly recognized the role of the tourism industry in driving economic growth and promoting employment, and the international community attached greater importance to sustainable development of the tourism industry. At the same period, China’s tourism not only integrated itself into the development trends of the world tourism, but also changed the situation of the world’s tourism. It is the inevitable result of the development of China’s tourism, but also the outcome of the great support from Taleb Rifai.
Li Jinzao said, Taleb Rifai made a special to China to attend the China International Travel Mart and inspected the observation point for sustainable development of tourism in Yangshuo in November 2009, the second month after he had been officially elected as UNWTO Secretary-General. Afterwards, he visited China almost every year to advocate the importance of developing tourism to leaders of Chinese governments at all levels, share advanced international experience for China’s tourism development, establish a platform for international tourism and cooperation and exchanges, and facilitate dialogue and coordination between tourism administrations between China and other countries. Thanks to the strong support from Taleb Rifai, the First World Conference on Tourism for Development that China advocated was successfully held in Beijing on May 19, 2016. The event was attended by about 1,000 officials and representatives from 107 countries and major international organizations, aiming to make discussions on the future development of the world tourism. The event released Beijing Declaration, reflecting the consensus of the global tourism industry.
“I saw the professional quality of UNWTO and felt his genuine friendship to China’s tourism industry. I met with Taleb Rifai for the first time two and a half year ago, feeling like old friends. In March 2015, I led a delegation to visit the head office of UNWTO in Spain for the first time and signed with him the 2015-2017 Plan on Cooperation between CNTA and UNWTO. After that, we deepened our cooperation and jointly held the First Tourism Ministerial Meeting of Countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and China International Tourism Forum and so on so as to make discussions on tourism cooperation, and have now achieved fruitful results. Thanks to Taleb Rifai’s trust and support, we succeeded in our bid for the 22nd general meeting of UNWTO in Medellin, Colombia.” said Li Jinzao.
Taleb Rifai considered that China’s tourism industry is growing at a high speed and has attracted great attention from other countries. CNTA and Chairman Li Jinzao himself have successfully spurred the tourism development. The further of the world and the world's tourism rely on China. “When I transferred flight in Paris yesterday, I saw that the airport provides information in Chinese besides English and French. People all over the world have to pay attention to China and listen to the voice of the country”, said Taleb Rifai.
“In 2016, over 1,230 million people all over the world travelled abroad, that means that one sixths of the world’s population left their country to travel abroad. It is a revolution of tourism. Tourists travelling abroad will create more jobs and promote trade contacts and infrastructure construction. Chinese tourism played a vital role in travelling abroad”, said Taleb Rifai.
Taleb Rifai said, “I made friends with Chairman Li Jinzao since our first meeting, and I fully felt the efforts made by CNTA for promoting the tourism industry in my work contacts with him. I attaches great importance to the great efforts made by China’s tourism sector in the aspects of all-for-one tourism, tourism plus and sustainable development of tourism. CNTA thought highly of details, for example, it launched the campaign of “Toilet Revolution”, which has a bearing on raising the comfort level of every tourist.
Also present at the meeting were CNTA Vice Chairman Du Jiang, UNWTO Executive Director Zhu Shanzhong and responsible persons of relevant departments and offices of CNTA.