Asia Pacific Leads World in Recognising Importance of Tourism to National Economies

February 2012

 

In times of global instability, Asia Pacific nations are leading the way in acknowledging tourism´s potential to bring positive economic, political and social change, with five nations in the region having already committed to supporting UNWTO and WTTC´s joint Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign since its launch in March 2011.

 

Next month marks the first anniversary of the campaign, which seeks to encourage top-level political recognition of tourism´s potential to generate sustainable socio-economic growth and development, create jobs and aid in the global shift toward a responsible, sustainable, Green Economy.

So far in the Asia Pacific Region, leaders of Indonesia, China, Korea, Malaysia and Brunei have received one of UNWTO/WTTC´s Open Letters, which outline the importance of prioritizing travel and tourism in national policies to maximize the sector´s potential.

“Tourism has provided job opportunities for millions of people across the globe; is one of leading exports of developing countries; and is a key stimulus in the transformation to a green economy,” said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the first Asia Pacific recipient of the Open Letter.

Other recipients have been equally enthusiastic about the initiative, with the Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak vowing to become ´an ambassador for world tourism´ and China declaring the sector a strategic pillar of its national economy and policy.

With Asia and the Pacific emerging from recent years of global economic downturn as one of the strongest tourism regions (both South Asia and South East Asia have seen double-digit growth in international tourist arrivals according to recent statistics from the World Tourism Barometer, at 13% and 12% respectively), these countries are now showing firm leadership in exploring avenues to rejuvenate national economies. To date, countries from the Asia Pacific Region make up 25% of those already committed the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign.

 “Tourism needs to be regarded as a new growth engine of the 21st century,¨ said Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik. Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO highlighted the importance of the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign in doing this, stating that “we need to garner support for tourism from outside the sector if we are to continue to grow and contribute to global wellbeing.”

Three other countries in the region have expressed  interest in endorsing the Open Letter over the coming months.