During the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, another organization – the World Tourism Alliance (WTA) – was born under the leadership of Dr. Li Jinzao, Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).
According to the association’s website and about its statement the organization is a global organization with similar goals the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has. Considering the Chairman of the Peoples Republic of China personally appeared on video at the lounge congratulating Dr. Jinzao who is head of CNTA and seeing most members are from China, it appears the organization is trying to appear global under Chinese leadership. The second man recently announced as a director for UNWTO is also Chinese.
eTN talked to the Vice Chairman of WTA, Roger Dow, who is head of the US Travel Association. Mr. Dow was not able to explain what his role in the organization is nor what World Tourism Alliance is actually doing. eTN had asked repeatedly to get Mr. Dow’s input, but he had no response. When asked if this organization is trying to seal world leadership for the Chinese government in tourism politics and policies, there was no response from Mr. Dow.
His standard response is laying out the importance for the Chinese outbound market to the United States. All of this doesn’t sound very global.
Both UNWTO and WTA had not responded to eTN media questions on this issue.
According to the WTA website, the World Tourism Alliance (WTA) is a global, non-government, non-profit, international, tourism organization. Its membership covers national tourism associations, influential tourism businesses, academia, cities, and media, as well as heads of international organizations, former political leaders, retired tourism officials, heads of tourism businesses, and renowned scholars. Its headquarters and Secretariat are located in China.
Upholding the vision of “Better Tourism, Better World, Better Life” as its ultimate goal, the WTA is committed to promoting tourism for peace, development, and poverty-reduction based on mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual support, and a win-win outcome. The WTA and the UNWTO go hand in hand and stand complementary to each other, serving as double engines to drive global tourism exchanges and cooperation at the non-governmental and inter-governmental levels.
The WTA will provide professional services to its members by setting up platforms of dialogue, exchanges, and cooperation for business match-making and experience-sharing and be open to cooperation with international organizations to promote global tourism. It will establish high-level tourism research institutions and consultancies to study the trend of international tourism development and to collect, analyze, and release global and regional tourism data. It will provide planning, policy-making consultancy, and professional training for governments and businesses. It will set up a mechanism of reciprocity among its members to share tourism markets and resources and engage in tourism promotional activities. By holding annual meetings, summits, expos, and other events, it will facilitate exchanges and cooperation between government and the private sector to advance integrated development of international tourism with other industries.
Currently, the following individuals are leading the organization according to the WTA website. eTN reached out to everyone, but there is no response as to what the organization has done or what they are planning to do. One thing is sure, however, and that is the Chinese government’s tactics seem to be the style this organization is set up under and how it runs.
Here are the leaders:
Dr. Li Jinzao (China)
Li Jinzao is now Chairman of China National Tourism Administration. He graduated with a master’s degree in International Economics from the Wuhan University in 1984, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1988. Dr. Li used to be in the UK and Australia as visiting scholar. He worked in the Ministry of Finance and then the National Development and Reform Commission of China and served consecutively as Mayor and Party Secretary of Guilin City, Standing Committee Member and First Vice Governor of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region(Province), and Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce of China.
He chaired the First World Conference on Tourism for Development (2016) and the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly (2017).
Duan Qiang (China)
Duan Qiang holds a Ph.D. in Economics of Tsinghua University, China. He was former Vice Mayor of Beijing and now Chairman of the Board of Beijing Tourism Group (BTG), one of the top tourism groups in China. BTG holds stakes in nearly 300 companies and extends its broad presence with over 1600-member companies from across the world. Shepherding one of the strongest tourism businesses in China, Dr. Duan holds considerable influence in the Chinese tourism industry and beyond. He is a NPC deputy, member of the NPC Committee of Environment Protection and Resource Conservation, and deputy to the Municipal People’s Congress of Beijing for five terms in a row. He now serves as Chairman of China Tourism Association, Vice Chairman of Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association, and Vice Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Roger Dow (America)
Before becoming President and CEO of U.S. Travel Association in 2005, Roger Dow had worked at Marriott for 34 years. He was Senior Vice President for Marriott’s Global and Yard Sales, developed the Marriott Incentive Scheme and was the first to roll out the world-leading discount program for frequent travelers. As President and CEO of U.S. Travel Association, he has contributed significantly to tourism planning and its legislation in the U.S. and played a major role in the birth of the Brand USA. He used to serve and is still serving in industry organizations such as the International Institute of Tourism Studies, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Committee of One Hundred, etc.
Henri Giscard d’Estaing (France)
Henri Giscard d’Estaing is Chairman and CEO of Club Med and son of former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing. He was elected congressman of Loir-et-Cher province at the age of 22, the youngest at that time. He used to work at Danone and Evian before joining Club Med in 1997 as deputy manager for finance, development and international relations. He succeeded the resigned Philip Brinon as General Manager in 2001 and became Chairman and CEO in 2005.
Jayson Westbury (Australia)
Jayson Westbury is CEO of Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), a MBA of Australian School of Business and has 25 years of managerial experience in the tourism and hotel industry. He has been acting as executive director of AFTA since 2009, was former head and is still a Board director of the World Travel Agents Association Alliance (WTAAA), an international organization with about 56 member states from across the world. He is also on several taskforces and working groups under the federal government of Australia, contributing to the formulation and improvement of tourism policies in Australia and the rest of the world. He was awarded an Australian Tourism Champions Award in 2003 and a further recognition as an Australian National Tourism Legend in 2009 and 2011 from Tourism Training Australia.
Liu Shijun (China)
Liu Shijun graduated from the Tourism Department of Beijing International Studies University and holds an EMBA of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. He once worked as Director-General, Department of Marketing and International Cooperation of China National Tourism Administration (CNTA)，Secretary-General of China Tourism Association (CTA), Counsel of the General Administrative Office, Deputy Director-General, Department of Industry Management and Standardization, Deputy Counsel, Department of Tourism Promotion and International Liaison of CNTA, and Director of China National Tourist Office in New Delhi and Sydney respectively. Mr. Liu is a veteran in tourism marketing and branding, industry management and standardization and owns rich experiences in the sector as he has worked in industry associations and overseas organizations with excellent organizational, communicative and language competence. He was represented CNTA in the Asian Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus.
Mr. Dow from US Travel was not able to explain what the organization is doing, and why US Travel joined it, and what is role as the Vice Chairman is. When asked if the US State Department was consulted him becoming a vice chair of a Chinese government influenced organization, there was no response. Mr. Dow is not listed as a foreign agent with the US Department of State.
Instead this somehow generic and not relevant response was given:
“U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States, and our member companies and organizations look to us to identify opportunities that develop visitation growth to America. That’s why we recently became involved with the World Tourism Alliance.
“With U.S. market share declining at a time when global travel is expanding overall, America must seize every opportunity to tap into the world’s largest outbound travel markets.
“In 2016, the U.S. government forged the U.S.-China Tourism Year to ‘maximize the economic and social benefits of increased inbound international travel to the United States.’ That successful initiative convinced us that we must continue the momentum by getting involved with this new organization.
“China presently ranks among the top five source markets of visitors to the U.S., growing from 400,000 visitors in 2007 to three million in 2016. During the same period, Chinese visitor spending in the U.S. increased from $2 billion to $18 billion—the highest among all countries. In fact, travel accounts for nearly a fifth of all American exports to China. Further, U.S. jobs supported by Chinese visitor spending in the U.S. increased from 21,600 in 2007 to 143,500 in 2016.
“U.S. Travel has been at the center of several crucial moments over the past decade while working hand-in-hand with the Department of Commerce and others in the U.S. government to make it all possible, including the creation of the 10-year tourist visa and the bilateral agreement enabling inbound group travel.”