The Director General of the Korean Tourism Bureau has challenged tourism industry representatives to lead the way in meeting the challenges to achieve one community in the APEC region.
Speaking at the 4th APEC Tourism Forum in Busan, Mr Kim Chan highlighted the growing importance of the tourism sector for the development of the regional economy.
Mr Kim said one of the core elements in meeting the challenges of community building is to take benefit from cultural diversity and he said the tourism sector is poised to do just that.
"To be one community, APEC Member Economies need to change their historical and cultural differences to highlight variety," Mr Kim said.
"Member Economies should also seek to alleviate the economic disparities among member economies through mutual cooperation."
At a working level Mr Kim said APEC Member Economies should adopt sustainable tourism strategies. These he said should include attention to issues such as product diversification that seeks to prevent reliance on a single style of tourism product, increased attention to marketing, the adoption of new technologies and advanced preparations to deal with potential crises or disasters.
To develop and implement suitable strategies, Mr Kim said it was essential that Member Economies pool intellectual resources and experience.
"APEC Member Economies should exchange and share their knowledge and experience in tourism. This combined effort could not only publicize the tourism industry in each economy, but also promote the tourism industry throughout the region," Mr Kim said.
"Each Member Economy also must play a leading role in establishing tourism ethics and developing principles of environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism."
In his address to the meeting Mr Kim presented figures that highlighted the dramatic increase in tourist arrivals over the past half century, rising from 25 million tourist arrivals in 1950 to 686 million arrivals in 2000.
In the APEC region Mr Kim said travel and tourism was estimated to have been responsible for around US$2.4 trillion in annual spending and maintained more than 94 million direct and indirect jobs in recent years. These figures are expected to rise exponentially by 2010.
A significant component of this spending and the job creation occurs in urban or rural areas and is particularly beneficial for small businesses.
The 4th APEC Tourism Forum is taking place in Busan, Korea, from 13 May and will be followed by the 26th Meeting of the APEC Tourism Working Group in Busan on 16-17 May 2005.