Opening Remarks by Francesco Frangialli, honorary secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organization

Print E-mail, June 30, 2014
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Opening Remarks by Francesco Frangialli

Honorary Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization

Jianmen Pass, Guangyuan,June 26th 2014

His Excellency Mr. Zhong Mian – Member of the standing committee of CPC Sichuan Provincial Committee and Permanent Vice Governor of Sichuan Provincial People’s Government,

His Excellency Mr. Du Jiang - Vice Chairman of China National Tourism Administration,

Mr. Deputy General of the Sichuan Tourism Administration

Mr. Chief Executive of PATA

Excellences, Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen

It is both an honor and a pleasure for me to participate today in the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Sichuan International Cultural Tourism Festival.

An honor to represent the United Nations World Tourism Organization and to convey to you the warm greetings of its Secretary General, Dr Taleb Rifai.

An honor, but also a pleasure - the pleasure to be one more time in this beautiful province of Sichuan, that I had a chance to visit in several occasions over the past 20 years, the last opportunity being in 2007 when the city of Chengdu was awarded one of the three Best Tourism Cities of China, jointly by the China National Tourism Administration and the World Tourism Organization.

Dr Rifai, who was then my deputy, came to Sichuan in 2008 to participate in the International Conference on Revitalizing Tourism and Confronting Crisis after the terrible earthquake that hit your province. I am pleased to note that Sichuan tourism has fully recovered, with 2, 1 million visitors to the Province in 2013, and that your Province has the potential to do much better.

I often tell my friends that, since my first visit here, I have a charming girlfriend in Chengdu. They are a little bit surprised - then I clarify that "Little Hibiscus" - that's her name - is a lovely female panda in the Panda Research Center in Chengdu, now a well renowned tourism attraction.

Preserving the pandas and biodiversity is not only for science. Along with protecting water resource, mountains, forests and landscapes, it provides ground for developing ecotourism, as well as keeping and reviving local traditions, handicrafts and arts, and restoring the ancient built heritage, provides the basis for cultural tourism.

I am pleased in this regard to note that Chengdu has become one of the 6 Sustainable Development Observatories in China, and is part of a global UNWTO network, and that a bilateral cooperation exists between the Sichuan Province and my part of France - the region of the Alps - for developing in a sustainable manner skiing infrastructures and mountain tourism.

Ecotourism and cultural tourism, that we are celebrating today, are two of the three pillars of Sichuan tourism sustainable development, the third one, in my opinion, being gastronomy. As a French citizen, I am convinced that France and China have the two best cuisines in the world. But be cautious with the famous "hot pot", which is sometimes very spicy for the taste of foreign visitors!

Mr. Provincial Leader, Mr. Governor, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am convinced that Sichuan will be contributing more and more to the success of China in the global tourism competition. Your country is already the leading generating market for the rest of the world, and is ranking 4th as a destination on the world map. From UNWTO predictions, it will become the number one by 2020.

UNWTO will accompany this move by assisting China in the process of formulating the first Tourism Law of the country, and by supporting China in the Silk Road tourism related activities, to which we know that President Xi Jinping attaches a great importance.

Congratulations for organizing this wonderful festival, and all my wishes of success for Sichuan tourism!

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