Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 15th General Assembly Session of the World Tourism Organization
Mr. Francesco Frangialli， Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization，
Ms. Louise Frechette， Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations，
All Delegates， Ladies and Gentlemen，
At this October time whenBeijingis offering us its charming autumn scenery in a most fresh air and clear weather， the 15th General Assembly Session of the World Tourism Organization is officially opened here. On behalf of the Chinese government， I would like to extend our sincere welcome to all the guests here and to express our warm congratulations on the convening of this session.
Tourism represents a kind of popular and pleasant activity that combines sightseeing， recreation and health care. Tourism has been developing all along with the progress of the times. Since the middle of the 20th century， modern tourism has been growing at a fast pace around the world. The number of tourists has ever been on the rise， the scale of the tourism industry has been on constant expansion， and the position of tourism in the economy has been obviously raised. Tourism serves gradually as an important bridge of cultural exchange， friendship and further exchanges and exerts more and more extensiveinfluence on the human life and social progress among various countries.
From ancient times till now， tourism has demonstrated the happy wish of the people for more knowledge， varied experience and good health. In ancient times， ancient Chinese thinkers raised the idea of “appreciating the landscape through sightseeing”。 Ancient People also proposed to “travel ten thousand li and read ten thousand books''， which shows they found pleasure in enriching themselves mentally and physically through traveling over famous mountains and rivers. After the founding of New China， especially since the opening up to the outside world and the reform， the Chinese government has given profound attention to the tourism work， which has been undergoing steady and fast growth as a newly emerging dynamic and potentially strong industry. Presently， China ranks among the top destinations in the world in terms of both tourist arrivals and foreign currency receipts， our outbound tourists are also increasing rapidly China is now a big tourism country. In the first half of this year， althoughChinawas affected by the sudden outbreak of SARS， yet we spent all our efforts in preventing and controlling SARS while continuing with our economic construction. By implementing strong supportive policy measures， the tourism industry， which suffered greatly for a time， has been on fast recovery and development.
As a country with a long civilized history，Chinais also one big oriental country full of modern vitality， not to mention its unique， rich and varied tourism resources. Besides the picturesque natural scenery， Profound history and extensive culture，Chinaembodies the different folk customs of 56 nationalities. Now， there are 29 places that have been listed as World Cultural and Natural Heritages sites. Thanks to the further push by the opening up and reform，China's modern construction is surging ahead and the cities and the country are experiencing daily changes. The ancient glory ofChinaand its modern boom add radiance and charm to each other， joining to create a most favorable condition for developing our domestic and international tourism.
The first 20 years of the 21st century represents an important strategic period forChinato achieve all-round construction of a better-off society and to speed up its socialist modernization. It also provides a favorable time for the further development ofChina's tourism industry. We shall bring up tourism as an important industry inChina's national economy， properly protect and utilize our tourism resources and try to achieve sustainable tourism development. The Chinese government welcomes all international friends to visitChina. We shall do our best to protect their health and safety； and at the same time encourage more Chinese people to go abroad for visits. We are ready to develop extensive cooperation with other countries and contribute to global tourism growth.
For many years， the World Tourism Organization has made active and effective efforts to the promotion of tourism prosperity and development around the globe. The World Tourism Organization will soon become a specialized agency of the United Nations. We would like to offer our sincere congratulations. We believe this WTO General Assembly session will give a major push to the further tourism prosperity and development in the world.
Finally， I wish a full success of the 15th General Assembly Session of the World Tourism Organization.