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UNWTO and GTEF sign MOU for elevated collaboration in Portugal

[2023.04.21] The Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF, or the “Forum”) and World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) co-held a press conference in Lisbon, Portugal on 21 April, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on their elevated partnership. The signing of the MOU deepens collaboration between both parties, which is anticipated to unveil new chapters of global cooperation in tourism, economy, culture and other fields in the post-pandemic era.  

During the UNWTO and GTEF Elevated Collaboration Announcement Press Conference, witnessed by Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region, Ho Iat Seng, the World Tourism Organization represented by Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, and the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre represented by Chairman Pansy Ho, signed an MOU which marks the advancement of cooperation.  

Secretary for Economy and Finance of the Macao SAR Government and Executive Chairman of GTEF, Lei Wai Nong, said in his remarks, “Today, we witness an elevated partnership between GTEF and UNWTO, which marks more ‘Bring-in’ opportunities for Macao's development with various parties and a new milestone in the GTEF's ‘Going Out Strategy.’ We believe that with the elevated collaboration, we will further contribute to the long-term sustainable development of the global tourism and related industries as well as promoting the diversified development of Macao.” 

Zurab Pololikashvili noted, “For a new tourism, we need a platform to bring together Governments, business leaders, international organizations and entrepreneurs. The Global Tourism Economy Forum will be that platform. It will be unrivalled as the premier gathering of global tourism leaders. The ultimate space to combine the power of Governments and of businesses – and unleash that power around shared goals. I am excited to see the plans for the Forum’s future.” 

Pansy Ho remarked, “In 2023, the GTEF will celebrate its 10-year milestone. In our next decade, we hope to establish the GTEF as the “Davos of Tourism” — embodying the Davos mission of openness and cooperation. We have the Secretary-General to thank for this vision of the GTEF as the “Davos of Tourism’, which he first put forward in 2018. Today we are taking the next steps toward making that vision a reality together. While the GTEF has its roots in Macao, it is answering the call of China’s national ‘Going Out Strategy’ by forging greater international cooperation. Beginning in 2024, and every other year thereafter, the GTEF will take place in other regions and international destinations to encourage greater dialogue on how the tourism sector can be developed to better meet the needs of everyone.” 

Other guests of honor who attended the press conference and signing ceremony include Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the Portuguese Republic, Zhao Bentang, and other representatives of the Macao SAR Government and UNWTO. The main participants also include delegates from the Chinese Embassy in Portugal, Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal (AICEP), Portugal Tourism Board, Portuguese Association of Travel Agencies and Tourism (APAVT), Portugal-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the six integrated tourism and leisure enterprises in Macao. 


New forum model to enhance international influence 

At the press conference, GTEF and UNWTO announced their elevated partnership, for which UNWTO signed a MOU with the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre, the coordinator of GTEF. Beginning in 2024, the location for GTEF will alternate each year between other international destinations and Macao to promote international cooperation and cultural exchange, and further strengthen GTEF’s international status.  

The signing of the MOU not only deepens collaboration between GTEF and UNWTO but also unveils new possibilities for global cooperation in tourism, economy, culture and other fields in the post-pandemic era. Fueled by this opportunity, GTEF will support the Mainland, Macao and the international community in identifying opportunities for promotion and collaboration, enable enterprises to navigate the current and future development trends while consolidating Macao's status as a world centre of tourism and leisure. 


10th GTEF to convene in late September 

Preparations and promotions are actively underway for GTEF, which will reach the major milestone of the 10th edition this year.  

The 10th GTEF will convene in Macao in late September 2023. Ministers, business leaders and industry experts in the fields of tourism, economy, culture and commerce will be invited to gather and shed light on the opportunities for the recovery of the global tourism economy. Insightful dialogues will unfold on how best to navigate the new norms of post-pandemic travel through innovative and sustainable international cooperation, in turn building a more resilient, high-quality and people-oriented tourism sector.  

Shanghai is invited to join the 10th GTEF as the Featured City. The global financial hub is advancing the concerted development of the global economy and gives full play to its significant role in the Belt and Road development. Within the framework of the Shanghai-Macao cooperation mechanism, the Forum seeks to promote exchange and collaboration in cultural tourism between both cities. A multi-functional platform will be built to embrace new possibilities of recreational, leisure and sports tourism development, as well as explore the potential of mutual cooperation between China, Portuguese-speaking countries, and European countries as travel markets.  

GTEF has also invited Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance and one of the four biggest economies in Europe, to be its Partner Country this year. Since 2020, GTEF has been included as part of the Sino-Italian cultural cooperation mechanism by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China. It is anticipated that the Forum will contribute to the long-term cultural cooperation and exchange between China and Italy in the future. 


For more information about GTEF, please visit and follow its official social media channels for the latest news: 

WeChat ID: GTEForum 


1. UNWTO and GTEF Elevated Collaboration Announcement Press Conference (Group Photo)

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2. Witnessed by Chief Executive of the Macao SAR, Ho Iat Seng, UNWTO represented by Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, and the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre represented by Chairman Pansy Ho, sign an MOU
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