Kung Fu hero Jackie Chan kicks for AsiaPacific tourism

Action film hero Jackie Chan, whose hands, feet and stunts have vanquished so many villains on the silver screen, has a new battle to win as the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) first “Asia-Pacific Tourism Ambassador.”In his new role Mr. Chan, who is already a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), will help to promote tourism as a means of fighting poverty throughout the region.“I will do my best to achieve the tasks you have given me: to promote tourism in a healthy and sustainable way, and to help people who are less fortunate through tourism,” Mr. Chan told UNWTO’s first Ministerial Roundtable for the region, currently underway in Macau, China, on receiving the plaque of appointment from the Agency’s Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli.Mr. Chan has travelled the world making his films. In that way, he said, he has tried to turn the spotlight on different tourism destinations. But he promised that from now on, in his new capacity, he would do a better job. “Now when I slide down a building, I will make sure it becomes a tourist attraction,” he joked.Ministers at the Roundtable are examining the best policies for coping with rapid growth and ensuring that it is sustainable. “Despite a series of problems in recent years, Asian tourism has increased its resilience and become the motor of tourism growth worldwide,” Mr. Frangialli said.The global pattern of tourist flows is being redrawn with one out of every five international tourists now choosing a destination in Asia and increasing numbers of Asians themselves travelling overseas.An estimated 156 million tourists visited the region in 2005, up more than 7 per cent over the previous year despite the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, which hit tourist resorts in Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and elsewhere.Among so-called mega trends identified, Asian tourism is becoming more activity-based rather than destination based, the region is becoming a convention hub and low-cost carriers are driving tourism growth. India is Asia’s leader in real tourism growth.

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