Public-private partnerships focal point of Asia Pacific meetings


While growth is returning to international tourism, led to a large extent by Asia and the Pacific, public and private bodies in the region must continue to work together on responses to the crisis to ensure a sustained recovery. This was the main conclusion to emerge from the 22nd Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the preceding Conference on the Socio-Economic Benefits of Tourism, organized in collaboration with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (Hanoi, Vietnam, May 10-12, 2010).
“Following one of the toughest years for the tourism sector, Asia and the Pacific has emerged a star performer and is expected to show the strongest rebound given its renewed economic dynamism,” said UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai at the opening of the commission. “Indeed, data reported for the first months of 2010 shows that the region is already leading the recovery with an increase in international tourist arrivals of 10 percent,” he added.
Despite these encouraging figures, public and private tourism industry representatives at both events were well aware of the fragile nature of the global economic recovery and the need for increased collaboration to ensure sustained growth.
Meeting with HE Mr. Pham Gia Khiem, deputy prime minister of Vietnam, during his visit to the country, Mr. Rifai debated these issues and expressed UNWTO’s commitment to continue working with Vietnam to strengthen its tourism sector and make it a sustained driver of economic growth and development for the country.
The core of the Commission Meeting was taken up with an interactive workshop in which destinations and private stakeholders reported on successful strategies employed to counteract the negative impacts of the recession. Sharing the experiences of destinations and companies in this way will work towards increasing total world tourism to the advantage of all; counteracting the negative impacts of the recession on economies and employment; and spreading the benefits of tourism to less developed countries, thereby making an important contribution to poverty alleviation.
The importance of securing tourism’s recovery was further underlined at the Conference on the Socio-Economic Benefits of Tourism at which leading speakers from around the world explored tourism’s key role, current and future, in job creation, income generation, infrastructure improvement, and poverty alleviation in the region, assessing the challenges to be faced and identifying key opportunities.
Congratulating the outcome of the Commission Meeting and the Conference, Mr. Rifai welcomed the focus on public-private collaboration: “Success stories coming out of Asia and the Pacific destinations have shown the world that tourism, as an important sector for socio-economic development, can and should be at the forefront to combat global economic and ecological challenges. Strong public-private cooperation, as witnessed during both these important events, will prove key in a sustained recovery for international tourism.”
Affiliate UNWTO members representing the industry were, for the first time, directly involved at both events, and a more interactive format was developed to allow maximum participation from all attendees. In addition to the UNWTO members present, some 200 representatives from Vietnamese local tourism authorities and from the private sector also actively contributed.