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Forum discusses global role of tourism

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Published : Oct. 10, 2011 - 19:27

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UNWTO chief says center of world tourism has shifted from West to East


GYEONGJU ― Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik said Korea’s hosting of a ministerial meeting during the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s general assembly signifies the nation’s role as a global leader in fighting poverty.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is hosting the 19th General Assembly of the UNWTO in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, through Oct. 14.

At the biennial meeting, tourism policy makers, scholars and industry leaders from 154 countries gathered at Hyundai Hotel in the South Korean city to discuss how culture, sports and tourism can help achieve the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals on Monday.

“Ten years ago, we co-hosted the UNWTO general assembly with Japan. But now, Korea hosts it alone. It means that Korea is contributing to the international community’s efforts to resolve common challenges of the globe,” Choe said in a press conference.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choe Kwang-shik (second from right), speaks during a ministerial round table, in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, Monday. On the left are U.N. Deputy Secretary General Asah-Rose Migiro and UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai. On the right is Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choe Kwang-shik (second from right), speaks during a ministerial round table, in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, Monday. On the left are U.N. Deputy Secretary General Asah-Rose Migiro and UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai. On the right is Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

“Korea hosted the G20 Summit and the second T20 tourism ministers’ meeting last year and will host the OECD Tourism Committee’s meeting next year. It is meaningful that Korea can be an icon of hope for developing countries,” he said.

Participants in the ministerial meeting included UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai, U.N. Deputy Secretary General Asah-Rose Migiro and Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“One of the most important goals that we’ve achieved in the ministerial round table was the fact that the tourism stakeholders, particularly in the public sector, started to use the terminologies of ‘development’ and think in terms of jobs, infrastructure and all the contributors to the development agenda,” Rifai said.

Rifai stressed that the recent global financial crisis clearly showed that the center of the global tourism has shifted form East to West, although Europe still takes up 55-58 percent of world tourism, outbound and inbound.

The year 2009 was the first time that the global tourism market shrank, but it grew to 6.8 percent in 2010. Asia saw about 13.6 percent growth in tourism in 2010, almost twice the average global growth, Rifai said.

“The fair distribution of the benefits of the tourism all over the world definitely is in favor of developing countries,” he said.

Earlier in the morning, Sachs told reporters that tourism plays two “enormous roles” for the global economy.

The first one is that tourism makes it possible for poor countries “to generate good jobs, incomes and break free from poverty,” he said.

The other is that tourism promotes mutual understanding of the globe, as travelers in different parts of the world come to trust each other.

His comments came after he gave Choe a plaque of thanks for the Korean government’s support for the Millennium Villages Projects in Tanzania and Uganda. The projects aim to help those in extreme poverty achieve sustainable growth to break free from poverty.

“The Korean government is increasing development assistance, taking the leadership in global policies and Millennium Development Goals,” Sach said.

As Korea was the host of G20 Summit last year, the world looks to Korea for its global leadership, he said.

While Korean national Ban Ki-moon serving as U.N. Secretary-General, now is “great time for its global leadership,” he said.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)