OECD meeting focuses on 'green' tourism
By Yun Suh-young
MUJU — The 90th session of the OECD Tourism Committee and the OECD/APEC Tourism Working Group Forum opened Monday in this southwestern county, North Jeolla Province, attracting tourism experts from all over the world.
The meeting, co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and supervised by North Jeolla Province, kicked off a two-day run under the theme “sustainable and green” tourism.
More than 150 representatives from 40 OECD and APEC member countries were present at the meeting.
The gathering began with the opening remarks of Isabel Hill, chair of the OECD Tourism Committee, under the presence of Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choe Kwang-shik and North Jeolla Province Gov. Kim Wan-joo.
Other key participants included Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD Yves Leterme, and Sergio Arzeni, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Local Development of the OECD.
Choe welcomed the foreign participants during a banquet held Monday evening.
“I sincerely welcome you to Muju, which is home to the cleanest and most beautiful natural environment in the country. We are delighted to hold the OECD tourism committee meeting here at Muju where tradition harmonizes with the natural environment,” said Choe.
He stressed the importance of the opening of the committee and the significance of the theme to be discussed.
“The tourism industry is becoming more widely recognized as an important means to create jobs and invigorate the economy. Sustainable and green tourism is also becoming more important,” he said.
“The Korean government, with such a concept in mind, played a significant role in including tourism in the agenda for sustainable development at the Rio+20 Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June this year. In such a way, we are striving to contribute to developing the global tourism industry.”
He went on to say that Korea is putting its utmost effort into raising the country’s competitiveness in the tourism industry and boosting the role of tourism.
“Korea held various international events such as the G20 summit in 2010, UNWTO conference in 2011, the Nuclear Security Summit and the Yeosu Expo this year,” Choe said.
“According to statistics by the Union of International Associations, Korea was 12th in the country ranking on holding international conferences in 2008. But it reached sixth in the world in 2011 and is becoming an optimal country for developing the MICE industry,” he said. MICE stands for meeting, incentives, convention, events, and exhibition.
During the meeting, participants will discuss the tourism industry’s success cases in developed countries. On Tuesday, OECD/APEC forum on tourism will be held to discuss ways to strengthen competitiveness of the tourism industry.
During the conference, not only will participants review the tourism industry’s policies by theme, but also exchange ideas and share experiences and strategies for attracting foreign tourists.
The biannual meeting was established in 1948 to utilize tourism as a method of developing the economy. The 89th Tourism Committee met in Paris, France.