Zurab Pololikashvili, Georgia’s ambassador to Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Andorra, said Chengdu is a charming city and a blessed place.
He made the comments as he was appointed chief of the United Nations World Tourism Organization for the 2018-21 term, during the organization’s general assembly in the city in mid-September.
Because of his appointment, Sept. 14 was an unforgettable day, he said, adding that he would also never forget China.
At the general assembly, held from Sept. 11 to 16, the Chengdu Initiative on Tourism Cooperation along the Belt and Road was made public at a tourism ministers’ meeting.
It was also the platform for the founding of the World Tourism Alliance, the first Chinainitiated, comprehensive global nonprofit NGO in the sector.
The alliance’s members include Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa and the United States.
Pololikashvili spoke highly of Chengdu’s role as host of the meeting.
He was impressed with the event’s high-caliber operation and the publicity it had generated, he said.
This year’s session set a new high in the general assembly’s scale, he said, as he had never seen such a large UN World Tourism Organization gathering as that held in Chengdu.
The event drew more than 1 ,000 guests, near ly 80 international ministers and hundreds of reporters from around the world.
Pololikashvili said he was proud of the hospitality his Georgian compatriots had shown, yet during this year’s meeting he found Chengdu people to be even more hospitable, he said.
Calling Chengdu a city of great charm, Pololikashvili said it is an international tourist destination, with a wealth of historical heritage sites and scenic spots.
During his visit, he spent several days traveling with his wife and children around Chengdu, visiting ancient towns and the city’s signature friendship ambassador, giant pandas.
His children, in particular, were impressed with the city because they love pandas, he said.
Pololikashvili said he hopes that under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, the tourism organization will soon put on another large event in Chengdu.
He will promote Chengdu and China around the world, he said.
Taleb Rifai, current secretarygeneral of UNWTO, said, “Chengdu is one of the most dynamic and passionate cities in China.”
The tourism organization gathering was “not held here by accident“, he said. “It’s the right time and right place.”
China’s status has been rising in the international community in recent years and its influence has increased in the global tourism sector, Rifai said.
As a result, when China proposed hosting the event, tourism organization member countries agreed unanimously.
Chengdu was chosen both because of the China National Tourism Administration’s recommendation and the city’s unique charm, he said.
Rifai visited Chengdu when he took office as organization chief in 2009. He was amazed during his visit in September by how Chengdu’s had changed and by how much it had achieved over the past eight years.
Chengdu once served as one of the organization’s observation locations for research into sustainable tourism development.
The organization and the China Nat ional Tour ism Administration have designated it one of the best tourism cities in China.
Rifai said he is fond of Sichuan cuisine. “The food here is very good. I can testify to it.”
During the general assembly, Chengdu became the focus of the world tourism sector, he said.
It was an ideal opportunity for Chengdu to promote itself, he said, as the event will help Chengdu to reposition itself in the global tourism landscape.
Ali Padron, Venezuela’s viceminister of tourism, who likes jogging in the morning, said he loved running along the streets, at least three to four times during his stay in Chengdu, and found the streets exceptionally clean, he said.
Padron said that when it comes to Chengdu, people tend to think of its giant pandas. But when he was there, he found that the city provided an extraordinary array of other tourism products and experiences, notable among them its history, culture and natural beauty, he said.
Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Seychel les’ minister for tourism, civil aviation, por ts and mar ine, spoke highly of Chengdu’s tourism infrastructure.