Tourists visit the Narat scenic area in Xinyuan County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, May 19, 2023. (Xinhua/Hao Zhao)
The opening ceremony of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Forum "Year of Tourism 2023" was held on Friday in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The forum will run until Sunday, bringing together heads of tourism administrations, representatives of international organizations and tourism businesses, and experts in the field of tourism from SCO member states and other countries.
"The forum aims to provide a broad platform for people to discuss issues related to the development of tourism within the SCO, and actively seek cooperation options in this respect," said Zhang Ming, secretary-general of the SCO. Zhang said that the SCO covers a large area with great tourism potential, and countries should create favorable conditions for the development of the tourism industry.
The year 2023 was declared "the SCO year of tourism" by the SCO member states, aiming to support the tourism industry and increase the appeal of SCO cities and regions to tourists.
"Kazakhstan attaches special importance to the comprehensive cooperation within the SCO, and in 2022, over half of the foreign tourists in Kazakhstan were from SCO member countries," said Yerzhan Malikovich Erkinbaev, Kazakhstan's deputy minister of tourism and sports.
Forum participants will be invited to visit Kashgar, Altay, Aksu and Urumqi in Xinjiang.
Since its inception in Shanghai in 2001, the SCO has expanded from an organization with six members into an organization with nine full members, three observer countries and 14 dialogue partners, covering over 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass and nearly half of the world's population.