“Digital advances provide opportunities to tourism in order to enhance inclusiveness, community empowerment and efficient resource management to achieve the SDGs. Yet to do so, we need to better understand where tourism is heading so we can adopt the adequate policies and business strategies,” said Shanzhong Zhu, executive director, UNWTO, at the event.
International tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific grew six percent in 2017 to reach a total of 323 million. Rapid economic growth in emerging economy markets, rising air connectivity, more affordable travel and enhanced visa facilitation continue to fuel tourism from within and outside the region. Asian destinations earned USD390 billion in international tourism receipts in 2017, 29 percent of the global figure, a share that has steadily increased from 17 percent in 2000. China, the world´s top spender in international tourism and fourth largest destination, has been one of the main drivers behind this growth.
Ian Yeoman, travel and tourism futurologist, delivered the keynote speech on the future of tourism, highlighting the importance of societal behaviours towards a sustainable future and the distribution of wealth generated by tourism, as main drivers of change.
Furthermore, topics covered at the forum included how digital advances and data can be used to support sustainable tourism for development. Presentations were made by Google, TripAdvisor, Vynn Capital, STR, the European Travel Commission as well as research and policymakers from across different countries in Asia and the Pacific.
The Forum concluded by emphasising the need for transformation and seize the opportunities brought by innovation and technology to move sustainability to the next level.
The 12th UNWTO/PATA Forum on Tourism Trends and Outlook drew more than 220 experts from 22 countries, among which representatives from national tourism administrations, national tourism Organisations, tourism businesses and academics. With the longstanding collaboration of the Hong-Kong Polytechnic University, the Forum has become over the last 12 years a reference platform on global and regional tourism trends.