UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili

Tourism leaders across Asia and the Pacific have placed building resilience and embracing innovation at the heart of the sector’s restart and sustainable future.

The 34th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and UNWTO Commission for South Asia (34th CAP-CSA), took place as destinations in the region begin to welcome international tourists again. The region was first and hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic on tourism, as many countries maintained strict restrictions on travel. Today, as UNWTO data confirms a 64% increase in international arrivals in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021, the high-level meeting of industry leaders identified key challenges and opportunities ahead.

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UNWTO work in the region

UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili provided an overview of tourism trends and statistics, both for the region and globally, followed by an update on the work of the Organization in the months since the previous meeting of the Joint Commission (hosted virtually by Spain in 2021). He stressed the importance of working together to lift travel restrictions, with coordination key to reviving tourism and restoring confidence in international travel. “For many millions of people across Asia and the Pacific, tourism is an essential lifeline. Its return is vital and must be built on the pillars of inclusion and sustainability, for the benefit of all.”he said.

The meeting was the first face-to-face meeting of the CAP-CSA for two years and brought together representatives from 19 Member States, as well as the network of UNWTO Affiliate Members. Reception of delegates, Dr. Abdulla MausoomMinister of Tourism of the Maldives and Chairman of the Joint Meeting, added: “While the path to recovery is still uncertain and many challenges remain, global coordination through similar platforms will open the possibility of building back more holistically towards a sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism sector for the future.”

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Resilience through innovation

The 34th CAP-CSA took place in the Maldives as the country celebrated 50 years as an international tourist destination. In the context of the Golden Jubilee, the Maldives Ministry of Tourism and UNWTO also partnered to organize a Ministerial Roundtable on Tourism Resilience through Innovation and Digitalization in Asia and the Pacific. Recognizing the vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic, the discussion explored ways in which new technologies and ideas can help better protect tourism against shocks, including future pandemics as well as extreme weather events.

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Concluding the Joint Meeting, Member States voted to hold the next Gathering in Cambodia in the first half of 2023. In the wake of the High Level Meeting, UNWTO will organize a two-day Global Tourism Summit community, bringing together public and private sector experts brought together to focus on the potential of food tourism, agritourism and community tourism for sustainable and inclusive development.