WTCF Central Asia Tourism Conference 2019 opened in Samarkand, an important node city along the Silk Road on November 26th. It was co-hosted by World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), Samarkand State Government, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). At the opening ceremony, Li Baochun, Executive Deputy Secretary-General of WTCF, pointed out that the area along the Belt and Road has become a region with the biggest potential in global tourism.
Executive Deputy Secretary-General of WTCF Li Baochun in an interview (Photo by Wu Xiaohong)
According to the statistics of the German tourism organization Reise, from 2014 to 2018, the TIDI of 65 countries along the Belt and Road grew by 14% on average. The two-way tourism between China and countries along the Belt and Road accounted for a large part of the travelers in such countries. According to the statistics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the volume of such travelers from China to the 65 countries along the Belt and Road exceeded 30 million in 2018, recording an increase of 77% over that in 2014. Li Baochun said, "It is predicted that the number of two-way tourists between China and countries along the Belt and Road will reach 85 million and that consumption from this influx will total 110 billion dollars in 2020. In the overall picture of global tourism development, the area along the Belt and Road will doubtlessly become one of the most mysterious and high-end regions recording the fastest growth."
WTCF Central Asia Tourism Conference 2019 attracted over 200 guests from China and other countries. Speaking on the purpose of holding this conference, Li Baochun said that Central Asia is a gold channel linking Europe and Asia and boasts of plentiful, natural, and cultural resources, hence one of the most favorable tourism destinations for international tourists. However, multiple limitations have resulted in a relatively low percentage of global tourism and its influence has yet to be improved. "WTCF and SCO have held this conference for a multitude of reasons such as: to make full use of the advantages of Central Asia's tourism sector, fully echo the Belt and Road Initiative, discuss how to promote tourism development in Central Asia, comprehensively deepen the strategic cooperation among tourism cities in the region, create a cooperative platform for top destinations, further improve the region's influence in the global tourism system, and build Central Asia into one of the most attractive tourism destinations in the world."
WTCF is the world's first international tourism organization focusing on cities and its members cover 73 countries, territories and the entire sector's industrial chain. Three cities of the five Central Asian countries are members of WTCF. Li Baochun said, "WTCF has always been paying great attention to the tourism development of countries and cities along the Belt and Road. In 2017, we brought up Call to Action: Building Node Cities on the Belt and Road Tourism City Corridor in Penang, Malaysia. This year, we hold WTCF Central Asia Tourism Conference 2019 in Samarkand. WTCF is composed of six branches, namely Committee of Tourism-Related Businesses, Committee of Civil Aviation, Committee of Investment, Committee of Cruise Industry, Committee of Media Organizations, and Experts Committee. It also provides seven kinds of special services including funding, investments, research, consulting, promotion, and activity participation. WTCF will make full use of the advantage of the internet when engaging international organizations, enhancing cooperation among tourism cities in Central Asia, improving the strategical status of the region in the travel sector and inject new vitality into the sustainable development of global tourism".
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