WUHAN — Senior tourism officials are seeing big opportunities in tourism cooperation among member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
“Last year, a quarter of the tourists we received came from SCO member countries, a year-on-year increase of 14 percent,” Nikolay Korolev, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism, said at the first meeting of tourism ministers from SCO nations that opened on May 9 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Numon Abdughafforzoda, chairman of the Committee for Tourism Development under the Government of Tajikistan, said that tourism is increasingly becoming a driving force behind the country’s economic development. “We have fully utilized tourism resources in Tajikistan such as highland and mineral resources, and we have attracted many tourists from SCO nations,” Abdughafforzoda said.
The SCO accounts for over 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass, nearly half of the world’s population and over 20 percent of global GDP. Its eight member states are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
China and the other member nations have been cooperating to develop tourism. According to China Tourism Academy, last year, the number of visitors from the SCO member countries to China reached 2.5 million, accounting for 8.6 percent of the inbound tourists.
Meanwhile, 1.8 million tourists from China visited the other SCO member countries, accounting for 3.4 percent of all Chinese outbound tourists. “Last year, we held an international yoga festival, which attracted many tourists from SCO member states,” said Suman Billa, joint secretary of India’s Ministry of Tourism.
“We are committed to building a shared tourism platform, improving the competitiveness of tourism, carrying out exchange projects and cultivating tourism talent.” “Tourism can be one of the most promising cooperation areas among SCO member states,” said Li Jinzao, China’s vice-minister of culture and tourism. Li suggested that SCO member states work together to promote culture heritage and streamline allocation and management of tourism resources.