20 September 2017 – As an intergovernmental organisation and a ‘FriendÂ’ of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IY2017), CABI was present at the 22nd Session of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly, held on 11-16 September in Chengdu, China, and joined UNWTO, its members and partners to celebrate IY2017 at a special event on 14 September.

The theme of this five-day long General Assembly was “Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals – Journey to 2030”, focusing on the priorities of the UNWTO for 2018-2019, the transformation of the UNWTO Code of Ethics for Tourism into an International Convention and the impact of technology on tourism.

More than 1,300 delegates from over 130 countries attended the opening of the 22nd Session of the UNWTO General Assembly on 13 September, which was followed by a high level session on Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals and Building Partnerships for Development: The Example of the Belt and Road Initiative, moderated by Richard Quest of CNN International.

Wang Yang, Vice-Premier of the People’s Republic of China, read out a congratulatory letter from President Xi Jinping before delivering his own welcome remarks. Vice-Premier Wang announced that since China joined UNWTO in 1983, its tourism sector has grown to represent 10 per cent of the country’s economy, and commented that “smart tourism” will guide the development of the sector. He highlighted the need to enforce policies to enhance sustainable tourism. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO, stressed that being one of the largest global industries, tourism contributes to all 17 SDGs, particularly SDGs 8, 12 and 14.

CABI is delighted to be a ‘Friend’ of IY2017 and is committed to promoting sustainable tourism. With scientific research, publishing and international development at its core, CABI has a global reputation for improving knowledge and building skills of local communities and national partners in agriculture and the enviroment, including responsible agriculture and environmental management. Having accumulated over 25 years’ experience, CABI is a respected publisher of tourism databases and books, and has a huge network of internationally renowned experts, offering valuable resources supporting research and learning, as well as good tourism practices worldwide.

Representing CABI, Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, Memberships Director, attended the General Assmebly and associated events. “In our Medium-Term Strategy 2017-2019, we have aligned our strategies with SDGs as well as the requests of our member countries identified through our regional consultation process in 2015-16. Among priority requests were for CABI to provide information and training resources to support sustainable agro-tourism and other non-farm rural employment, particularly for women and youth. We aim to combine our experience of working with governments and local communities to build capacity with our vast resources in sustainable tourism to address such requests,” said Dr Zhang.

“Tourism is one of the driving forces of global economic growth, and currently accounts for 1 in 11 jobs worldwide. Agro-tourism and rural tourism play important roles in sustainable tourism development, providing jobs in rural areas, helping families add to or replace their farming incomes. CABI is well positioned to make good contributions to agro-tourism and rural tourism, in partnerships with national, regional and international bodies like UNWTO, and the private sector,” Dr Zhang continued.    

The 22nd General Assembly has appointed Zurab Pololikashvili, a former Minister of Economic Development of Georgia (2009-2010), as the Secretary General for 2018-2021, and discussed the Chengdu Declaration on ‘Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals’. A World Tourism Alliance led by China was also launched during the event.

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