CANADA – The first World Tourism Investment Summit, coordinated by the Canada-based World Trade University Global Secretariat (WTU), was hosted by the Busan metropolitan government of the Republic of Korea in conjunction with the Tourism Promotion Organization for Asia Pacific Cities (TPO) Forum between October 6-9, 2008. The summit, with the theme ‘Future of Investment,’ successfully brought together over 350 senior public and private sector executives from 37 countries representing every major region and six continents.
In opening the summit, Mr. Sujit Chowdhury, secretary general of the summit and WTU president & CEO, stated, “We are gathered in Busan to explore, identify, and address essential questions relating to the local and global impacts of tourism investment on all segments of the economy, to gain from the current and future trends, and to set a new agenda that, relative to other industries, tourism can be environmentally friendly, non-consumptive, and non-polluting while strengthening all points of economic and cultural sustainability and enrichment.”
Mr. Bruce C. Bommarito, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Travel Industry Association of USA (TIA) delivered the summit opening keynote address. Over 50 global speakers included H.E. Ching Ko Wu, member of the International Olympic Committee and several ministerial representatives, seven global roundtables, five special sessions including the minister and CEO panel on public-private partnership at the APEC House chaired by Mr. Abdel Hamid Mamdouh, director of trade in services-World Trade Organization, eight dedicated sessions on regional investment trends, several promotion sessions, three simultaneous workshops, TPO exhibition – marketing showcases, Let’s Make a Deal sessions, numerous press briefings including a high-level press breakfast with the Mayor of Busan, and two organized gala dinners with cultural events, were all integral parts of the summit.
The summit showcased major development projects from ‘tourism-rich-regions’ of the world, demonstrating the ‘current & future trends’ in tourism investment.
· The Al Ahli Group of Dubai working in partnership with the Busan government presented a US$2 billion initiative as they are developing a one-of-a-kind commercial, business, entertainment, and residential complex with a Disney-type theme park in Busan, expected to be one of Asia’s largest.
· The Muckleshoot Tribe of the state of Washington, USA, the owner of the biggest casino in the state with annual revenue exceeding US$250 million, unveiled their newest development of the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle with a plan for the largest amphitheatre and largest race track. The Morongo Tribal Council unfolded the expansion plan of the largest casino in California with a budget of over US$200 million.
The host of the summit, His Excellency Hur Nam Sik, Mayor of Busan metropolitan government and president of the Tourism Promotion Organization for Asia Pacific Cities (TPO), made everyone aware that “every country and city around the globe is exerting all-out efforts to attract foreign tourists, and investors are focusing on the development of new tourism resources.”
The summit also presented a diverse group of investment initiatives focusing on sustainable tourism and cultural tourism from around the world. Showcasing their most expansive initiatives were demonstrations by: Tourism Western Australia, Shandong Tourism Authority of China, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, SMIT on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism Morocco, Iran Touring and Tourism Investment Co., Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of The United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda Tourism Commission, Representaciones Monterrey S.A. & REMSA Realty Group of Guatemala representing Central America, PANORAMA International Inc. from Costa Rica, Stewart Title Guarantee Co. International Group of USA, and the Special Unit for South South Cooperation of UNDP, etc.
Three of the immediate outcomes of the Summit were: the government of Tanzania presenting the deed for the land transfer of 400 acres in Bagamoyo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Indian Ocean coastline near Dar es Salaam, for the development of World Tourism University-Africa in Tanzania; finalizing the negotiation and signing of the MOU for the development of World Tourism University-China with the support of the Shandong Provincial government (of China), witnessed by representatives from several national and international organizations; and launching of the World Indigenous Economic Council engaging several prominent North American tribal councils.
As JUST A DROP was the summit’s official charity, a donation was made to the UK-based organization on behalf of the summit global secretariat and delegates.
The inaugural investment summit marks the third global tourism event convened by WTU, building on successful World Tourism Marketing Summits in 2004 and 2007. Similarly recognizing global leadership of national and regional authorities, World Tourism Leadership awards were bestowed to the metropolitan government of Busan and the government of Tanzania for extraordinary leadership in ‘sustainable tourism development, promotion and management.’
The symbolic summit flag handover ceremony officially closed the precedent – setting, three-day event, with the WTU and the government of Busan passing on to the government of Tanzania—on whose behalf Her Excellency Shamsa S. Mwangunga, the minister of natural resources and tourism, accompanied by a governmental delegation of 18 most-senior officials and private-sector representatives — assumed the duties as host nation of the World Tourism Investment Summit in 2011.