WTCF, one of Silk Road Experience Group main partners, is developing its next big event. The WTCF Asia Pacific Tourism Conference will be held in Penang, the famous Malaysian tourism city, under the theme “One Belt One Road：Development of Tourism Corridor and City Hub” from 25 to 29 March 2017. Representatives of UNWTO, WTCF city and institutional members, experts of the WTCF Expert Committee and government representatives of Penang attended the conference.
The Silk Road, which served as an international channel of economic and cultural exchanges between the East and the West in the past, has played a major role in the evolution and communication of world civilizations. The Belt and Road, an incisive summary of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, is a cross-regional cooperation initiative put forward by the Chinese government for promoting win-win cooperation and shared prosperity of countries along the route, as well as a continuation, expansion and upgrading of the ancient Silk Road. After the launch of the initiative, it was warmly received and supported by the relevant countries. In 2016, the 71st UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, endorsing the Belt and Road and other economic initiatives, and calling on the international community to provide security guarantee and policy support for the building of the Belt and Road.
The Belt and Road encompasses the world’s four ancient civilizations and three major economies. It has a population of 4.4 billion, 63% of the world’s total, and an aggregate GDP of 21 trillion US dollars, 29% of the global economy. This makes it one of the most dynamic regions in the world. The Belt and Road connects the major tourism destinations and tourist sources in Europe and Asia, and represents 70% of global tourism. As such, it is one of the most promising regions in world tourism development. The relevant research shows that during the coming five years, 150 million Chinese tourists will visit countries along the Belt and Road, and 85 million tourists from these countries will visit China, generating over 300 billion US dollars of tourism consumption.
WTCF is an important platform for exchanges and cooperation between world tourism cities. Upholding the core value of Better City Life through Tourism, WTCF has made dedicated efforts to promote the concept of sharing economy, and develop information, academic, data, activity, cooperation and training platforms and services for promoting tourism destinations and industries. WTCF is committed to promoting broad-based cooperation between member cities along the Belt and Road, between tourism industries, and between social media and tourism market, with the goal of promoting standardized, convenient and rules-based urban tourism, building the Belt and Road Tourism Corridor and supporting the tourism development of node cities, thus injecting new dynamism into world tourism cooperation.
The Belt and Road Tourism Corridor is an international tourism channel composed of tourism node cities, supported by tourism infrastructures, connected by tourism and cultural resources and guaranteed by sound tourism services. It carries the vision of promoting the Silk Road spirit of “peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit” in keeping with the global trend, realizing benefit sharing, infrastructure connectivity and joint building of tourism culture through open “connectivity”, and building the Belt and Road Tourism Corridor into a diversified and convenient world-class tourism corridor. The Belt and Road node cities are not only major tourism destinations but also major tourist sources in the world, undertaking the important function of tourism hubs. To promote the building of Belt and Road node cities and the Belt and Road Tourism Corridor could help remove the trade and institutional barriers between tourism cities, and improve the convenience and quality of tourism, thus making an important contribution to sustainable tourism development in the world. The WTCF members are willing to leverage the strength and platform of the organization, connect with the Belt and Road initiative in the eight areas of tourism product development, infrastructure building, tourism standard making, tourism investment and financing, consulting services, tourism promotion and marketing, professional exchange and training, data and information sharing, set an example in the building of node cities on the Belt and Road Tourism Corridor and provide fresh experience for world tourism cooperation.
Taking the opportunity of the Asia Pacific Tourism Conference, WTCF hereby calls on all countries and cities along the Belt and Road to make efforts in the following five areas:
1. Promoting openness and cooperation and striving for win-win results. Countries along the Belt and Road should champion the notion of open, inclusive and shared development, actively take part in the building of the Belt and Road, break the institutional barriers, build an open market, ease restrictions on freedom of the air, strengthen the link of airports, ports, railway stations and other key nodes, accelerate road connectivity, upgrade infrastructure conditions, and jointly build the trunk lanes of international tourism with land-sea-air transport connectivity. We should further ease restrictions on border entry and exit, strengthen the mechanisms of license mutual recognition, road emergency rescue and tourism insurance, and improve tourism visa facilitation in countries along the Belt and Road. We should push for the building of a tourism cooperation meeting mechanism for countries and regions along the Belt and Road. We should build a Belt and Road tourism trade cooperation mechanism by enhancing bilateral or multilateral cooperation and explore diverse mechanisms of tourism cooperation. We should attract the participation of private capital in the development of tourism resources, strive for the free movement and effective allocation of resources and factors and create conditions for more people to participate in tourism activities.
2. Respecting cultural diversity and building a mechanism for collaboration. We should give full respect to historical heritage and diversity in ethnicity, religion, belief, language, customs, culture and environment, protect ecological and natural harmony, harness the treasure of human civilizations on the Belt and Road, and develop high-quality, eco-friendly and diversified tourism. We should promote the protection and utilization of tourism resources and push for the development of tourism economy in cities along the route. We should deepen the building of a win-win mechanism, promote diverse forms of multilateral cooperation across national borders, industries, levels and sectors, encourage two-way opening of tourism investment and financing and joint infrastructure construction, jointly build the big market and architecture of tourism development under the Belt and Road, especially the catalytic effect and function of the Tourism Corridor and node cities in driving the regional economy.
3. Leveraging the role of the WTCF platform and cultivating tourism products. We should build on the WTCF platform, firm up the foundation of people-to-people exchange, develop more high-quality tourism products tailored to the diverse needs of tourists and anchored on the cultural traditions of different countries, regions and ethnic groups, cultivate tourism brands with distinctive features, develop classic tourism routes, and build the Belt and Road into an “artery” of world tourism development. We should follow the sustainable development of cruise industry on the Maritime Silk Road, leverage the resources of marine tourism, open up new tourism markets and routes for cruise ships, explore new opportunities for regional economy, promote cruise tourism cooperation on the Maritime Silk Road and cultivate classic routes of international maritime tourism.
4. Promoting the building of node cities and exploring new forms of services. We should promote the connectivity between key node cities on the Belt and Road and international market with such means as market survey, data collection, information exchange, consumer guidance, experience recommendation and technology promotion and through such activities as joint tourism forums, academic exchange, media release and product services. Tourism cities should provide services with more international common languages, improve the service system of tourism signs, and promote the internationalization of basic services. We should pay attention to the use of new media resources, build a tourist reception service system suited to the needs of non-group tourists, and enhance the ability of offering tailor-made tourist services. We should encourage the node cities of the Belt and Road Tourism Corridor to hold joint tourism exhibitions, media exposure of tourism destinations, tourism industry match-ups and two-way tourism promotions, and jointly promote tourism development in the node cities.
5. Improving emergency response mechanism and ensuring safety in tourism. Safety is the top priority in tourism. Countries and cities along the Belt and Road should act in line with the spirit of the UN resolution, place high importance on and take effective measures to protect tourist safety, and resolve differences and problems through bilateral or multilateral consultation. We should strengthen public security and tourism market management in node cities, build an integrated mechanism for speedy dispute settlement with multi-party participation, foster a secure and orderly tourism environment, and build the Belt and Road Tourism Corridor into a model and paradigm of secure and harmonious tourism for the world.