Travel News: UNWTO Offers Japan Support as Nuclear Crisis Deepens

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Regional Commission for Asia and the Pacific has expressed its full support and solidarity with the people of Japan in the aftermath of the recent earthquake and tsunami. Holding their annual meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka (March 24-25, 2011), UNWTO members from Asia and the Pacific also discussed individual country concerns regarding their tourism sectors in light of persistent global economic challenges.

The 23rd Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for South Asia and the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific adopted a special resolution on Japan, expressing “support to, and solidarity with, the government of Japan and the Japanese people as a whole." The resolution stressed support to “Japan’s tourism industry in its endeavors to offer travel assistance to both foreign and local tourists to ensure their safety.”

The announcement came as Japan confirmed it would decommission four stricken reactors at the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant. Operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) made the announcement three weeks after failing to bring reactors 1 - 4 under control.

In his report to the Joint Commission, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said that while the recent catastrophe in Japan would have a short-term impact on Japanese tourism, “The dynamism and resilience of the tourism sector in Asia will contribute to foster continued growth throughout the region.”

International tourism in Asia and the Pacific grew by more than 13% in 2010, making it the first region to recover from the financial and economic crisis. Against this backdrop, UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals to Asia to grow between 7-9% in 2011.

An expanding economy is the primary driver of the tourism boom in both the business and the leisure segments in Asia, and the potential for tourism demand is still strong. “Destinations in the region are making significant efforts to tap this potential, putting targeted marketing strategies in place, such as the theme-year initiatives planned for 2011 in Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Nepal, Vietnam, and others,” said Rifai.

UNWTOis a specialized agency of the United ‎Nations and the leading international organization in the field of tourism. It serves as a ‎global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.‎ UNWTO plays a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, ‎sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the ‎interests of developing countries.

UNWTO's membership includes 154 countries, 7 territories, and over 400 Affiliate ‎Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations ‎and local tourism authorities.‎
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