Nara, JAPAN – Tourism Ministers from the Asia-Pacific region stressed the importance of achieving sustainable and inclusive growth in this key industry, on the opening day of the 6th APEC Tourism Ministerial Meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010.
Opening the meeting, Japan’s Minister for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Sumio Mabuchi, said tourism, like the rest of the economy, had suffered from the global financial crisis, natural disasters and the H1N1 virus in recent years.
However Minister Mabuchi, who is chairing the meeting, said tourism has potential to play a key role in the region’s economic recovery. Steps, therefore, need to be taken by APEC to help nurture the industry so that it grows sustainably for future generations.
“Although we see some signs of upturn in the economy starting from this year, we are still far away from a full-fledged recovery. So there are efforts being taken around the world to bring about growth,” Minister Mabuchi told the meeting in his home town of Nara, Japan.
“The tourism industry is an industry which can actually enable growth without resorting to fiscal stimulus. It is an industry that has the potential to impact on the revitalisation of the regional economy as well as on employment and therefore the sustainable growth of this industry is of paramount importance.”
“Over the next two days in this ministerial meeting, I do hope that we can have very robust and active discussion and exchange of views and express and translate our strong resolve into the Nara Declaration, so that we can jointly take one step forward.”
APEC’s share of world tourism has been growing over the past 15 years, according to StatsAPEC, an extensive database showing economic performance in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC’s share of world tourism has increased from 28 percent in 1995 to currently 51 percent. International tourism arrivals in the APEC region have grown approximately 122 million over this period.
During the plenary session, Ministers discussed the important role that the sector can play in contributing to APEC’s new growth strategy, which will be submitted to APEC Leaders for consideration when they meet in November in Yokohama.
In particular, Ministers discussed the need for protection of the region’s natural and cultural assets to create a more environmentally sustainable sector. Creating more stable workforces in the sector and enabling tourism to generate business opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises would also lead to more inclusive growth of the sector that benefits more sections of society.
Among other topics discussed was the importance of sharing information and ideas between member economies to strengthen the industry, and closer cooperation between APEC fora, the private sector and other international organisations to help achieve APEC’s goals.
Ministers provided an assessment of the tourism industry in their economies, and also received a report on the results of the APEC Tourism Working Group. The meeting will continue on Thursday before Ministers are expected to release the “Nara Declaration” on Tourism and hold a press conference.