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Ministers ink tourism pact

The tourism ministers of China, South Korea and Japan yesterday signed the Qingdao Declaration on exchange, cooperation and the common development of the tourism industry.

The declaration was the fruit of the second annual three-day meeting on tourism, which had the theme of "friendship, cooperation, harmony and win-win". The meeting ends on June 27, 2007.

Under the declaration, a mechanism will be introduced to allow non-governmental tour agencies to meet, exchange ideas and implement their governments' decisions.

Cooperation on tourism in the region was formerly limited to talks between governments, and there was no platform for tour companies to have their say, a source said.

The ministers also agreed to develop tour packages that would encompass leading attractions in the three nations. They also discussed the introduction of a system that would allow tourists to make a single payment to cover their travel and accommodation fees across the three countries.

At the inaugural ministers' meeting in Japan last year, it was agreed to try and boost tourist traffic within the three countries from 12 million in 2005 to 17 million by 2010.

Steady progress has been made, with the figure last year reaching 13.8 million, up 11 percent on 2005. Statistics show that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan and South Korea has growing rapidly in recent years.

"The number of Chinese visiting Japan is expected to exceed one million this year," Takashi Ota, president of Japan's Kinki Nippon Tourist Co Ltd, said.

Kim Jong-min, South Korea's minister of culture and tourism, said the number of Chinese tourists to South Korea had been increasing by 20 percent year on year.

 Source : China Daily  Editor:
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