In the year of the 20th Anniversary of the Samarkand Declaration on Silk Road Tourism, the 4th UNWTO Silk Road Ministers' Meeting convened to discuss visa facilitation as a means to further advance tourism development along the ancient trade route. At the meeting, UNWTO presented its Tourism Visa Openness Report for the Silk Road Countries, mapping out progresses made and challenges yet to be addressed in the region. (ITB Berlin, Germany, 5 March 2014).
With the support of ITB Berlin, the 4th Silk Road Ministers’ Meeting brought together 21 Ministers and Vice Ministers of Tourism from the Silk Road countries with representatives from the European Commission, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to exchange experiences and visa facilitation strategies.
Continuing the work initiated in 1994 when the Samarkand Declaration on Silk Road Tourism was signed, calling for ‘the adoption of facilitation measures that would reduce travel barriers and stimulate tourist flows along the Silk Road’ the participants discussed how the Silk Road countries can develop their collaboration to advance the visa facilitation agenda in 2014 and beyond.
Opening the meeting, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai emphasized the importance of a cooperative approach: “Complicated visa processes are still a major barrier to the growth of the tourism sector, and as such a barrier to job creation and poverty alleviation. UNWTO welcomes the measures already taken by the Silk Road countries in this area and commends their strong commitment to further advancements, evident by the high level of participation in this Minister’s Meeting. Only by joint action can we fully unlock tourism’s potential as a driver of sustainable growth and regional integration along this unique historic route and transform barriers into opportunities”.» Read Complete News.....