The 6th Silk Road Ministers Meeting held at ITB Berlin on 9 March 2016 focused on the role of public and private sector partnerships (PPPs) in the development of tourism along the Silk Road. Participants discussed how PPPs can advance the issues of infrastructure, product development and marketing.
Addressing the meeting, UNWTO Secretary-General said “governments must lead and direct tourism policies, but the engine behind tourism development is the private sector, and thus one cannot work without the other”.
The role of PPPs was stressed by the President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), David Scowsill, who recalled the need to create “mechanisms to promote the consultation of the private sector in decision making and legislation”.
Ministers and high level officials from Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, the Czech Republic, Cambodia and Iran shared their views and experiences in this area, while Kazakhstan presented the opportunities to promote the Silk Road arising from the upcoming Expo Astana 2017. Other major international events highlighted as key to forging partnerships between public and private stakeholders were the Silk Road Conference on Nomadic Tourism and Sustainable Cities (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 13-15 October 2016) and the Global Tourism Economy Forum 2016 (Macau, China, 14-16 October 2016).
At the meeting, UNWTO launched the Silk Road Action Plan for 2016/2017. The Plan, which includes priority actions in 1) marketing and promotion; 2) capacity building and 3) travel facilitation, will be further discussed at the 6th UNWTO Silk Road Task Force Meeting to be held in Urmia, Iran on 22-25 April 2016.
UNWTO Affiliate Member TripAdvisor presented the TripAdvisor 2016 Travel Trends for the Silk Road. The research based on a survey of 10,678 travellers shows that 8 in 10 travellers have heard of the Silk Road and that the top ten countries associated with the Silk Road are China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan. The research, conducted in collaboration with UNWTO, also found that travellers would be 41% more likely to travel to the Silk Road if they could obtain a single Silk Road visa.
The UNWTO Silk Road Programme is a collaborative initiative designed to enhance sustainable tourism development along the historic Silk Road routes. It aims to maximize the benefits of tourism development for local Silk Road communities, while stimulating investment and promoting the conservation of the route’s natural and cultural heritage. Additionally, it is working to foster greater cooperation between Silk Road countries and regions, with the established aim of creating a seamless and memorable Silk Road travel experience.
Currently the Silk Road Programme engages 33 UNWTO Members States, UN agencies such as UNESCO and UNCTAD as well as an extensive network of private sector stakeholders.