Hosted by the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government, the Global Tourism Economy Forum • Macau 2015 commenced with an opening ceremony at the Venetian Macao® this morning (12 October). The event is initiated and co-organized by the China Chamber of Tourism under the authorization of All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), coordinated by the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre (GTERC) and in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Unveiling its fourth edition today, the Global Tourism Economy Forum (“GTEF” or “the Forum”) meets under the theme “Belt and Road Initiative: Unleashing the New Dynamics of Cultural Tourism”, with the aim to embrace the magnificent vision of the Belt and Road Initiative, foster cultural tourism, actively explore development opportunities as well as enhance regional and international cooperation in all directions. The opening ceremony was officiated by prestigious guests including Mr. Chui Sai On, Chief Executive of Macao Special Administrative Region; Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia; Mr. Ho Hau Wah, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Forum Chairman of GTEF; Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of World Tourism Organization and Honorary Chairman of GTEF; Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Office of the Council of Ministers, the Kingdom of Cambodia; Mr. Li Jinzao, Chairman of China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and Honorary Chairman of GTEF; Mr. Zang Xianfu, Chairman of Tianjin Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference; Mr. Wang Huizhong, Deputy Secretary of Zhejiang Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China; Ms. Sandra Howard Taylor, Vice Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Colombia; Mr. Chen Yixing, Vice Chairman of Fujian Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference; Mr. Yao Jian, Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao SAR; Mr. Cai Siping, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Macao SAR; Dr. Alexis Tam, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government and Executive Chairman of GTEF; Mr. Wang Shangkang, Director of Department of Publicity and Education, All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce; Mr. Alejandro Schiavi, Undersecretary of Coordination, Ministry of Tourism, Argentina; Ms. Pansy Ho, Vice Chairman and Secretary-General of GTEF; Mr. Xu Jing, Executive Secretary of the General Assembly and the Executive Council of UNWTO, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at UNWTO as well as Honorary Vice Chairman of GTEF; Mr. David Scowsill, President and Chief Executive Officer of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and Honorary Chairman of GTEF; Mr. Kevin Murphy, Chairman of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Honorary Vice Chairman of GTEF, among others. The Forum boasts a strong lineup of close to 60 distinguished speakers including ministerial officials, leaders of globally‐renowned corporations, experts and scholars this year. Over 1,000 delegates arrived from different countries and cities worldwide to join the event. There are delegations from Featured Partner Countries — Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, Featured Partner Province Zhejiang and Partner City Tianjin. Some 200 representatives of international, Mainland and domestic media agencies came to cover the event. Mr. Chui Sai On, Chief Executive of Macao SAR, stated, “Macao is included in our Country’s Belt and Road Initiative. In light of this, we can give play to our focal effect and be a part of regional cooperation. The global tourism industry is currently facing immense opportunities and great challenges at the same time. We have to stand strong today and have a clear vision of the future. Striving to combine forces across cultures, sectors and regions, we must seize every golden opportunity and put it to good use. I believe this Forum edition will open up new dimensions for regional collaboration, and more than that, through discussions, we hope the event can bring forth a direction and practical advice for Macao and the global community to achieve sustainable tourism and economic development.” Mr. Ho Hau Wah, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Forum Chairman of GTEF, addressed the Forum, “The Belt & Road Initiative marks a process of constant development, transformation, adjustment and enrichment. Its scope of cooperation has extended from countries along the ancient Maritime Silk Road to the newly-emerging Latin America. As China and Latin America enter a new epoch in their cooperative relations, bilateral people-to-people exchanges will surge, which will create more opportunities for economic development. In active response to this new trend for regional cooperation, the Forum has invited the four member states of the Pacific Alliance — Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru to be our partner countries. Through the Forum as a platform for international exchanges and cooperation, we aim at fostering a broader scale of non-governmental collaboration for tourism growth across China and Latin America. Not only that, we hope the Forum can promote the combined effect of both the ancient and modern Maritime Silk Road as well as the Silk Road Economic Belt, which can be transformed into new joint forces for sustainable development of the global economy.” Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO and Honorary Chairman of GTEF, stated in his congratulatory message, “The Belt and Road Initiative offers an immense opportunity to reinforce regional cooperation and foster better lives for all those living in this area but also beyond in other regions such as the Americas through the Alliance of the Pacific. In this context, unleashing the New Dynamics of Cultural Tourism along the Belt and Road Initiative offers many opportunities to promote cultural tourism as a pillar for socio-economic development.” Included in the Country's Belt and Road Initiative, Macao fully plays the role as a hub on the Maritime Silk Road. By leveraging its diversity and inclusiveness with the blended cultures of East and West in harmony, the destination is dedicated to enhancing innovative and synergistic development in culture, tourism and related industries; at the same time, the city endeavors to foster industry diversification comprehensively and achieve its ultimate goal of building a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure. In addition to offering valuable advice and directions for the development of global tourism and related industries, GTEF showcases Macao's capabilities of organizing mega international events and its role as a major international platform across regions, sectors and industries. This will consolidate and optimize Macao's position as an international tourist city. The opening ceremony was followed by an array of signing ceremonies which symbolize new tourism partnerships between GTEF, its collaborative partners and Featured China Province and City. Among them is the Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNWTO and the Macao Special Administrative Region Government to establish a Global Centre for Tourism Education and Training in Macao. Deepening cooperation between both parties, this brand new entity not only will provide training and education programs, carry out joint tourism research projects but also will offer technical placement and internship opportunities. This will in turn substantially strengthen the city’s overall human capital in tourism and remarkably enhance Macao’s competitiveness as a travel destination. The opening ceremony was concluded by the joint presentation of the second UNWTO/GTERC Annual Report 2015 on Asia Tourism Trends presented by UNWTO and the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre. As a timely update on its findings in last year’s inaugural report, this report aims to produce a tool for policy-makers, private-sector stakeholders and academia to better understand tourism’s development in Asia and the Pacific, to spark discussions and to open up new opportunities. It confirms the leading position held by the Asia-Pacific region as the source market of tourism and the second most visited region in the world, attracting 263 million international tourists in 2014, comprising 23% of the world total. While China stands out as the number one tourism source market with record spending of 165 billion US dollars on international tourism in 2014, a 28% increase over the previous year, Latin American countries, especially members of the Pacific Alliance including Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, are also showing great potential for growth. The report also offers analyses reflecting the dominance of China as an outbound market and inbound destination continued to feature in 2014 and 2015, sheds light on tourism trends and identifies key tourism agenda in the region, and highlights tourism between Asia and Latin America, and urban tourism. This Forum edition brings on a fascinating and comprehensive program with a series of Featured Partner Countries and Mainland Provinces presentations scheduled in the afternoon as well as several in-depth topical panels scheduled on the second day. Among them, the Face to Face, Ministers and Private Sector CEOs session will gather ministerial officials from the Pacific Alliance as well as Asian countries and regions to join in a direct dialogue with global business leaders. The program is also enriched with business matching and networking programs, providing ample opportunities for Forum attendees to exchange ideas and explore opportunities for tourism business cooperation. The Global Tourism Economy Forum is hosted by the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government. The Forum continues to earn support from its supporting units including Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao SAR, Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Macao SAR, China National Tourism Administration, World Travel and Tourism Council, Pacific Asia Travel Association and Macau Government Tourist Office.