Address to participants of World Tourism Organisation General Assembly 23rd session 2019-09-11 10:00:00 Vladimir Putin: Mr Secretary-General, delegates of the General Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to greet you, and, first and foremost, to wish you great success in your important work, which is in demand by millions of the planet’s inhabitants. While facilitating the development of tourism, you also help strengthen humanitarian and economic ties between states, while opening new opportunities for communication and friendship between the citizens of different countries. The session of the General Assembly is being held in Russia for the first time. And it is symbolic that St. Petersburg – a city that people from all over the world aspire to visit – has become its host. St. Petersburg, like the rest of our country, always generously and warmly receives its guests, and it rightfully belongs among the most beautiful and hospitable tourist capitals of the world. Many cultures, eras, genres and art movements have all been historically intertwined here. Russia has huge tourism potential. The natural beauty of our regions and their cultural diversity are well known. It is important for us to bolster the social and economic returns we get from tourism. These include tax revenues and new jobs, the development of education and entrepreneurship, and the tackling of environmental and infrastructural issues. More than 125 million foreign tourists visited our country in the last five years. This is the result of our concerted efforts to develop our tourist industry. And, of course, major international events have played an important role in this regard, such as the Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, the World Festival of Youth and Students as well as student universiades. All of them have been held at the highest level and have left wonderful impressions on our guests of Russia as an open, hospitable, friendly, modern and comfortable country. We will render state support to this field more effectively in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the tourism market while implementing the most up-to-date services in line with breakthrough technologies of the digital era. Russia is one of the first countries where electronic visas have been implemented; they can be claimed remotely, quickly and without excessive formalities. We are open to the exchange of interesting ideas and proposals and are both ready and eager to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation. You will definitely feel it here, at the Assembly, during your in-depth dialogues, where delegates, experts and specialists will share their vision of the prospects of the Russian and global tourism industry. We are counting on your support for Russia’s application to host World Tourism Day in 2022, and for the opening of an International Tourism Centre under the auspices of the World Tourism Organisation. I wish you fruitful work and all the best.