The first tourism ministerial meeting between member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) took place in Wuhan, the capital city of central China’s Hubei Province, last week. 

The SCO senior tourism officials discussed big opportunities in tourism cooperation among SCO member nations, according to China’s Xinhua.

Delegates reportedly agreed on the progress made in tourism cooperation between SCO member countries under the framework of the 2017-2018 action plan, initiated in 2017 to implement the SCO Tourism Cooperation Program inked by the heads of the member states during the 16th SCO Summit on June 24, 2016.

The meeting also approved an action plan that will serve as a guideline for tourism cooperation between SCO member states from 2019 to 2020.

The joint action plan specifies cooperation among the national tourism administrations, as well as measures the member states could take to improve tourist experience and safety, develop tourist products and promote smart tourism.

Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the Tourism Development Committee under the Government of Tajikistan, Numon Abdughafforzoda, in particular, noted that tourism is increasingly becoming a driving force behind the country's economic development.  “We have fully utilized tourism resources in Tajikistan such as highland and mineral resources, and we have attracted many tourists from SCO nations," Abdughafforzoda said.

"We are committed to building a shared tourism platform, improving the competitiveness of tourism, carrying out exchange projects and cultivating tourism talent.  Tourism can be one of the most promising cooperation areas among SCO member nations," said Li Jinzao, China's Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism.  Li suggested that SCO member states work together to promote culture heritage and streamline allocation and management of tourism resources.

SCO Deputy Secretary-General Aziz Nosirov said that SCO member states had rich tourism resources and should spend more effort in the sector to enhance people-to-people friendship and understanding.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Tajik delegation conducted bilateral negotiations with senior tourism officials of China, Uzbekistan and other countries to discuss prospects of cooperation in the field of tourism. 

Founded in 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization now has eight full members -- China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia are four observer states, and SCO’s dialogue partners include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.  ACEAN, CIS and Turkmenistan are guest attendances.

The SCO accounts for over 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass, nearly half of the world's population and over 20 percent of global GDP.