The importance of enhancing youth exchange and sister/friendship city exchanges for promoting community linkages was highlighted at the 28th APEC Tourism Working Group Meeting in Shizuoka, Japan this week.
Held on 10-11 May, the meeting discussed shared past exchange experiences and called for greater awareness in member economies of benefits of activities in this area. These include:
- At the APEC 2006 First Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM1) held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 1-2 March, APEC agreed to take up "Promote Community Linkages" as one of its sub-themes in 2006 and to prioritize the further promotion of linkages among APEC member economies through increased tourism and cultural exchanges.
- Expanding international tourism exchange of younger generations, especially educational exchanges including school trips and youth exchange programs, are of great benefit to increase mutual international understanding. These increase the number of international travelers, promote education for international understanding and enhance regional development through international exchange.
- From a tourism point of view, international youth exchange forms a supporting basis for nurturing middle and long-term mutual international tourism exchanges. Provided with opportunities to begin to learn about and deepen their understanding of foreign culture, customs and traditions, open-minded youth can truly become international citizens through such experience. Not only do they become potential repeat international travelers for leisure and business, but they also encourage friends and family members to frequently travel abroad.
- Within the framework of sister/friendship city arrangements, a variety of exchange programs have been taking place covering fields such as culture, sports and education. These programs play an important role in promoting exchanges at the grassroots level with the full participation of citizens. In addition, such programs provide all participants with opportunities to revitalize their local communities and rediscover their own values and identities.
The Tourism Working Group Meeting reconfirmed the importance of youth exchange and sister/friendship city exchange and held the view that tourism exchange in these fields should be further promoted.
The Meeting agreed that grassroots-level exchanges including youth exchange and sister/friendship city exchange will contribute substantially to the process of developing closer social and economic linkages, to the deepening of mutual understanding and friendly relations, and to expansion of mutual exchanges among the peoples within the APEC region in the future.