On may 29, Dominique de Villepin, Chairman of the International Mountain Tourism Alliance (IMTA) delivered a keynote speech entitled "Impacts of and Responses to COVID-19 on Global Mountain Tourism"at the 2020 International Mountain Tourism Day Online Forum.
Mr. Dominique de Villepin pointed out that COVID-19 has completely changed people's understanding of the tourism industry. In the process of exploring a tourism development model that adapts to new trends, several concepts are crucial.
First of all, we should realize the importance of nation-states, and each country must make full and reasonable use of its own resources.
Second, under an increasingly complex competitive environment, tourism should be developed in a pragmatic way.
Third, globalization should be advanced through R & D and innovation to realize resource sharing and innovative development.
Fourth, we must actively promote regional cooperation, information sharing and experience sharing.
At present, the global tourism industry is amid rapid transformation. It should seize new opportunities, adapt to new models and follow new trends, so as to secure the diversity and high-quality development of mountain tourism in a well-planned manner.
The following is the full text of the speech:
Excellencies, dear friends, it is a pleasure to be with you for the International Mountain Tourism Day online event, and to be able to share some thoughts about the future.
I' m convinced that mountain tourism can be an adequate response facing the challenges of coronavirus. Because mountain means open space, fresh air, healthy conditions and respect of social distancing. This crisis has completely changed our perspective on world tourism, encouraging on a preferential mode, national and regional tourism. To take into account such a new reality, we should integrate four new pillars to adapt ourselves to this upcoming world.
The first pillar is to recognize the importance of nation state in a world where fear, mistrust and anger are back. And alongside with those feeling(s), we see the return of the borders. In this context, each country should take advantage of its own resources. And in this regard, China has the possibility to attract towards mountain tourism a large number of its own population, looking for outdoor activity, sport and nature discoveries. This is true also for the population of the neighboring countries. In this regard, the potential of the gradual provinces is high, along with many other regions of China, in offering large possibilities of activities in a safe and secure environment.
The second pillar is pragmatism. A war of influence, where all the tools of hard and soft power are mobilized. In this context, an open ideological competition of models will increase the risks.
The third pillar is research and innovation. Research is of course key to adjust globalization to a new trend of responsibility and sobriety. For example, in the medical field, we need breakthroughs to be able to better protect our people, but innovation is also imperative to adapt to our lifestyles. The current limits on international transportation and tourism should lead us to develop new online opportunities to identify and share new tourism resources through video, through broadcasting or Artificial Intelligence Tour to enlarge the local offer. Such initiatives could also encourage local productions, local tea, handmade products, art creations or reproductions with online sales. Such examples as the Louvre or important world museums through the gift shops could be followed.
The fourth pillar is regional cooperation, it is important to share at this level not only the information, (such) as the agenda of events, organized tours, special offers, but also, the best practices. In this regard, IMTA has a very special role to play, in connection with local and state governments, the new fragmented form of globalization should play at the advantage of the Asian region. Because benefiting of the highest growth rate. This situation should give a new justification and impetus to the silk road initiative.
In a longer perspective, we should accelerate the global transition in which we are engaged to take advantage of new opportunities for the tourism industry. The transition we are facing is a global one, besides the environmental and social factors, the economic and financial impact is of course closely linked to the coronavirus crisis. A hundred millions of jobs are threatened, and around the world in the tourist sector, travels could be lowered down to 78% this year. While we should remember that tourism revenues do represent 10% of the world GDP. As tourism is undergoing such an important transformation, how can we take advantage of new opportunities?
First, the tourism industry should adapt to a new model, taking into account three major trends.
First, concentration. The multiplication of new players, where the digital players or local start-up operators is pushing for bigger structures able to face the market shift.
Second, regeneralization. Because we need to adjust to a new situation where tourism should be less dependent of(on) international flights, avoid too big concentration of people and create a direct contact with nature and local experiences. This is of course, at the advantage of mountain tourism in China and in the region that can count on the huge resources of their own populations.
Third, innovation. In a connected world, every company must be in capacity to integrate technology in its business model. In this regard, China is already leading the way. The tourism industry has an exceptional opportunity to accelerate the transition to an economy driven by high added value services and domestic demand through its imported network of companies and matured infrastructures.
Today, we should understand mountain tourism offers the best deal based on security, diversity and quality. Mountain tourism responds more and more to the need(s) of people, because they want to reconnect with nature. Mountain tourism already represent(s) around 20% of the sector. With a growing demand for healthy activities and attracting business perspective, China is well positioned to take advantage from natural resources and exceptional lifestyles. In Guizhou, for example, we have a good illustration of natural and ethnic diversity with unique odds and traditions. At the eve of the next Olympic winter games of Beijing in 2022, China has an opportunity to show its growing commitment towards sustainable growth. But, high quality tourism also means speeding up new initiatives, like a Silk Road Mountain Tourism proposal.
First, we must focus on economic projects like building up infrastructures in remote areas such as western China and central Asia by implementing inclusive projects of roads, highways and railways. Which is the best altenative to isolation? By better leveraging investment to support cross border tourism projects like smart hospitality services, local food production and waste management in protected seascapes.
Second, mountain tourism is a way to make people aware of the importance of certain values. To share a collective heritage based on culture, to attract visitors looking for new experiences, to provide sport(s) activities with more open competitions being organized, but also to offer a shared experience for families.
Third, taking into account the consequences of COVID-19, we need to encourage the healthcare dimension of mountain tourism. Because of stress, pollution, fatigue of modern life, lowering of our immune system, this tourism is a necessity. Tourism away from big cities can provide many benefits, particularly for families, young children and elderly people, but also for the general population.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, as we can see, mountain tourism has a great future, because it responds to the needs of our modern societies. That' s why we need a well planified and carefully organized development, not to spoil its benefits and assets.
Thank you so much!