Delegates pose for a photograph at the World Tourism Forum Global Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, on Feb. 16, 2017. (Xinhua/He Canling)
Tourism professionals across the world are turning to Asian countries for more contributions to an industry overshadowed by a growing threat of terrorism, a prominent industry insider said here on Thursday.
"The global tourism industry has now been discussing the ways to attract these tourists to their respective countries," said Bulut Bagci, president of the Executive Board of the World Tourism Forum, as a global meeting initiated by his forum kicked off in Istanbul.
He said that the tourism industry had recently shifted its focus to the Asia-Pacific region, in particular countries like China and Japan.
China has been the largest source of outbound tourists for four years in a row, contributing an average of more than 13 percent to global tourism revenues, official figures show.
Over 600 million Chinese tourists will travel abroad in the next five years, according to data from China National Tourism Administration.
According to UN World Tourism Organization estimates, the current number of tourists traveling abroad is 1.2 billion and is expected to hit 1.8 billion in 2030.
Social media was identified as the best means to woo travelers in 2017 by sector professionals from over 25 countries present at the global meeting in Istanbul.
"Countries, cities and regions should definitely use social media and use it strategically to attract tourists," Bagci said.
Murat Ozbilgi, head of gezimanya.com, a digital tourism platform operating in Turkey, said all forms of social media are adding value to traditional tourism media in attracting tourists to a specific touristic destination.
In his view, social media has a serious influence over Asian travelers. "We need to examine this influence closely," he said.
Tourism authorities named terrorism as the biggest problem affecting the sector and limiting its growth.
In remarks delivered at the meeting, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called for more cooperation among world countries as an answer to terrorists.
"Do not allow terrorism to undermine tourism," he said.
The World Tourism Forum is a global organization holding events in different parts of the world to further boost global tourism. At its two-day meeting in Istanbul, the participants are expected to discuss the new trends in tourism and determine the new steps that should be taken to boost the industry.