UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai said “China is seeing the benefits from giving tourism a very high priority within government. It is an example other countries should try to follow.”
These are extremely important words, when considering the booming Chinese economy, that the world is eager to court, as seen by the recent visit of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Approximately 150 tourism ministers and aides attended the Summit which disclosed a huge difference in the importance countries place on tourism. John Penrose has become England’s “first dedicated tourism minister”.
Ministers should urgently re-evaluate the manner in which they appeal to their governments, claimed the Summit. Namely: instead of focusing on arrival numbers, data should incorporate the overall economic value to the nation.
China National Tourism Administration chairman, Qiwei Shao, said that by showing that 109 other sectors were affected by tourism and 15 million people directly employed in the sector, besides 85 million indirectly employed, he was able to enlist the Chinese government’s support of tourism.
A key theme of the Summit was taxes, as debate hovered around the UK’s controversial Air Departure Tax and the similar German and Austrian versions.
“Governments could drown small island nations in a sea of taxes before the tidal wave arrives,” warned Christopher Brown, Australia’s Tourism and Transport Forum managing director.
Small emerging South Pacific travel destinations, such as Vanuatu, would do well to heed Rifai’s advice. Instead of, as in the past, just concentrating on arrival numbers, when presenting their case to their government, they need to do a lot more homework on the economic value of the industry to the nation as a whole. Great care also needs to be exercised in the realm of proposed taxes.
Governments need to ask themselves “Without tourism, where would many of the nations be economically?”
It is a well known fact that smaller nations in particular, centre the majority of their economical growth off the back of the tourism industry. These nations have a lot to offer to the international traveler, such as widely diverse cultural and scenic beauty and ease of accessibility.
Countries such as Vanuatu have much to offer the discerning traveler, who wants to get off the beaten path and is easily accessed through either Fiji, or Australia and New Zealand.
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About the author,
Dr Wendy Stenberg-Tendys and her husband are CEO's and founders of YouMe Support Foundation, providing high school education grants for children who are without hope. You can help in this really great project by taking a few minutes to check out the Sponsor a Student program at (http://youmesupport.org). It will change the life of some really needy kids in the South Pacific.
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YouMe Support Foundation is a non-profit charity, raising funds for non-repayable higher-education grants for geographically and financially disadvantaged children.