The UNWTO Regional Commission for Asia and the Pacific has expressed its full support with Japan in the aftermath of the recent earthquake and tsunami, and backed the country’s tourism industry to recover from the incidents. Holding its annual meeting in Colombo, from 24-25 March, UNWTO members from Asia Pacific also discussed individual country concerns regarding their tourism sectors in light of persistent global economic challenges.
The 23rd Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for South Asia and the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific adopted a special resolution on Japan, expressing “support to, and solidarity with, the government of Japan and the Japanese people as a whole”. The resolution pledged support to “Japan’s tourism industry in its endeavours to offer travel assistance to both foreign and local tourists to ensure their safety”.
In his report to the Joint Commission, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai (pictured), said that while the recent natural catastrophe in Japan would have a short-term impact on Japanese tourism, “the dynamism and resilience of the tourism sector in Asia will contribute to foster continued growth throughout the region”.
International tourism in Asia and the Pacific grew by more than 13% in 2010, making it the first region to recover from the financial and economic crisis. UNWTO now expects international tourist arrivals to Asia to grow between 7-9% in 2011. An expanding economy is the primary driver of the tourism boom in both the business and leisure segments in Asia and the potential for tourism demand is still strong, according to Rifai.
“Destinations in the region are making significant efforts to tap this potential, putting targeted marketing strategies in place, such as the theme-year initiatives planned for 2011 in Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Nepal, Vietnam and others”, Rifai outlined.
The Commission meetings also reviewed the organisation’s programme of activities for the region, including the 19th session of the UNWTO General Assembly to be hosted in Gyeongju, Korea, from 8-14 October 2011.
The Regional Commission was preceded by the UNWTO conference “Mainstreaming Tourism in the Media”, which explored the role of the media in the overall positioning of tourism. Conceived in the broader framework of UNWTO’s efforts to position tourism in the political agenda, conference participants highlighted the importance of making the voice of tourism heard beyond the promotional aspects of destination branding and positioning.