Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization

I wish to congratulate Malaysia on being ITB’s partner country for this year. Malaysia is a founding member of UNWTO and one of its most active members, involved at several levels of the Organization’s activities and governing bodies.

Malaysia identified tourism as one of the forefront industries in its economy because of tourism’s great potential in job creation, socio-economic development as well as foreign income generation – tourism is currently the 2nd largest foreign exchange earner.

We all know the ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ tagline, which goes back two decades! Tourist arrivals and receipts have grown strongly since 1999 and transformed Malaysia into a major destination in Southeast Asia.

UNWTO feels very much at home whenever its officials visit Malaysia – a feeling we share with the more than 25 million plus international tourists who have been flocking to Malaysia’s borders every year since 2010. We have been co-organising the World Tourism Conference every 3 years since 2007. After successfully holding the 4th edition of this conference in Penang in 2016, we are currently in the process of preparing for the 5th edition which will be held in Kota Kinabalu next August.