Exclusive interview: Liu Shijun, Secretary-General, World Travel Alliance
Messe Berlin, organisers of ITB China, has recently been officially awarded membership of the World Tourism Alliance. Founded in September 2017 by Dr Li Jinzao, WTA is still a very young organisation. We asked the organisation’s Secretary-General, Liu Shijun, to tell us more about its creation and its key goals.
Yes, it is still a young organisation, but I would like to point out, if I may, that in spite of our being a relatively new organisation, what we have accomplished thus far belies our young age. Our commitment to the vision and mission of WTA, its goals and objectives, encompasses the entire world. WTA was created as an international organisation, its influence and impact reaching beyond borders, local or regional. The DNA of WTA is truly global. The world tourism industry has expanded exponentially in keeping with the rapid developments in technology and high-efficiency distribution channels. The Internet of Things (IoT) has turned the tourism industry into an economic force, facilitating the marketing of travel products and offers between travel providers/ suppliers and travellers across the world in real time.
THE WORLD TOURISM ALLIANCE IS A NATURAL, ORGANIC OFFSHOOT OF CHINA’S PREEMINENT POSITION IN THE GLOBAL TRAVEL AND TOURISM INDUSTRY
This has resulted, among other things, in a surge in the number of incremental travellers in Asia Pacific compared to the more established and conventional regions.
China, in particular, has risen to the top of the tourism ecosystem. It has become the world’s number one source of outbound travellers, significantly contributing to the growth of international tourism revenue. More importantly, Chinese travellers have become the most sought-after market segment by destinations throughout the world. China-ready programmes that cater exclusively to Chinese travellers have been adopted by tourism offices, hotels, shopping outlets, museums and entertainment centres. Chinese- language websites, brochures and signage are ubiquitous in emerging, established and conventional destinations. This signifies the importance of the Chinese outbound tourism.
The World Tourism Alliance is a natural, organic offshoot of China’s preeminent position in the global travel and tourism industry. It is an international platform that connects China to the rest of the world through travel and tourism. It is the bridge that links peoples and cultures. In today’s knowledge economy, it fastens and bonds disparate tourism organisations, individuals and institutions into a cohesive whole for the benefit of all.
Messe Berlin recently became a member of the WTA. What does this mean to you and how important is this partnership?
In today’s fragmented and divided environment, WTA serves as a unifying platform to promote global tourism cooperation and development. We are pleased that our message of inclusiveness and cooperative exchanges on all levels has resonated with many of the world’s leading tourism companies and organization that share our vision. We are greatly honoured that Messe Berlin has joined WTA. As well, we are confident that with its expertise and experience we can build a more competitive and collaborative tourism industry for the benefit of all.
What is your message to the world’s travel and tourism professionals attending ITB China this year?
ITB China embodies the quality and influence emanating from ITB Berlin. It sets the bar high for all travel shows in China and serves as an aspirational model for all. We hope the tourism professionals at ITB China this year will optimise their participation by fully engaging and sharing their valuable insights with the rest of the industry.
Also, on behalf of WTA, I would like to take this opportunity to extend our cordial invitation to all professionals at ITB China to join us in Hangzhou, China for this year’s WTA Xianghu Dialogue. We will release more details of this year’s Dialogue as we get closer to the date. The more hands that are joined together, the better is our chance of success. WTA is the bridge and the glue that brings and holds together the various sectors of international tourism, tourism-affiliated, non- tourism organizations such as the academia and the media for the benefit of mankind. This is our mission and we are privileged to count Messe Berlin as one of our esteemed members.
Photo: Liu Shijun Secretary-General, World Travel Alliance