International tourism conference opens in Beijing

Beijing, May 19 (IANS) A key international tourism conference opened in Beijing on Thursday amid hopes it would generate measures to boost global economic growth and social opportunities in the sector.

Tourism officials from over 100 countries were expected to attend the First World Conference on Tourism for Development, organised by the Chinese government and the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), billing itself as an event that would “start a high-level debate” on the industry’s contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), EFE news reported.

“Tourism is one of the most dynamic economic sectors, with significant global reach, and as such can make an important contribution to the achievement of the SDGs, particularly in the areas of job creation, sustainable consumption and production and the preservation of natural resources,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang delivered a keynote address at the conference as the China National Tourism Administration said it aimed to promote rural tourism as an effective way to fight poverty.

The conference, which continues until May 21, comes after Beijing approved its 13th Five-Year Plan in March aiming to lift 17 percent of the country’s impoverished population — some two million people — out of poverty by 2020, according to UNWTO.

The China National Tourism Administration hopes the five-year development plan will generate a total income of over 1 trillion yuan ($153 billion), benefiting 50 million rural residents.

Data from the conference indicates that tourism generated 10 percent of global GDP last year, accounting for over nine percent of the world’s employment and an estimated 1 billion international tourists crossing borders.



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