China has launched the new World Tourism Alliance, a “global, comprehensive, non-governmental, not-for-profit international tourism organisation”, based in Beijing. It has 89 founding members, more than 60% of which are based outside China, from the US, France, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Japan, and Brazil.
This challenge to the UN World Tourism Organisation and the World Travel & Tourism Council is on the back of China’s importance to global trade and travel, with an expectation that over the next five years Chinese tourists will make 700 million outbound trips. It also fits in with China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, to connect 65 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe to China through Europe-Asia continental roads and sea routes.
The World Tourism Alliance will have a general assembly, directors and a secretariat, based in Beijing, operating in Chinese, English, French, Russian, Arabic and Spanish. Its first chairman, Duan Qiang, is the president of Beijing Tourism Group and also the World Travel & Tourism Council’s vice chair for China.
It is predicted that the Alliance will have advantages as a tourism leader in that it will be influenced and supported by the Chinese government, and benefits from China’s growing influence on global tourism. The launch has been described by the WTA as “a welcome addition to pushing for greater recognition of travel and tourism”, while the UNWTO’s outgoing secretary-general has applauded “any form of cooperation (which) can only be for the benefit of our sector”.