MADRID, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Director of the National Tourism Administration of China Shao Qiwei and Secretary General of the United Nationals World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Taleb Rifai have reached agreement to strengthen cooperation on tourism, the UNWTO said on Monday.
The announcement comes less than a week after Shao was handed the first ever UNWTO Lifetime Achievement Award in the UNWTO offices in the Spanish capital city of Madrid.
Rifai commented then that Shao was the most prominent figure in world tourism in 2012 and highlighting how China had grown to become the third most important destination in the world last year as well as the second most important source market.
Shao also met with Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Turism Jose Manuel Soria during his visit to Madrid, saying China would continue to promote traveling of Chinese people abroad.
"With 148 countries and regions now included in the list of 'Approved Destination Status' (ADS), the government, and particularly CNTA, will continue to promote the traveling of Chinese people abroad as we believe in the mutual benefits of collaboration," he said.
Meanwhile Shao explained the objectives of China's tourism policy as "quality and sustainability."
"While the tourism sector has grown significantly over the past years in terms of volume, the future of the sector should focus on the diversification of tourism products, on environmental protection, on the quality of the workforce and overall quality over quantity. In this respect UNWTO support and guidance is of the upmost importance," added Shao, whose words were supported by Rifai.
The UNWTO secretary general believes"there can be no tourism growth without responsibility and sustainability," and thanked China for its policies.
"We are extremely pleased to see that China, one of the world's major tourism destinations and source markets, is putting quality and sustainability at the heart of its tourism policy objectives. UNWTO is very supportive of China's tourism strategy and is committed to supporting its tourism administration," he said, adding that both China and Spain can mutually benefit from their different tourism experiences.
"Spain is a reservoir of tourism experience and know-how built over more than 150 years of tourism history and China is an emerging tourism 'giant'. Spain can share its knowledge and experience with China and China can share its opportunities with Spain and through its tourists benefit not only Spain, but the entire European region," he concluded.