The first-ever international conference on spiritual tourism concluded in the northern province of Ninh Binh on November 22 with the adoption of the Ninh Binh Declaration on spiritual tourism for sustainable development.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh highlighted the role of spiritual tourism in promoting cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between nations, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

It also opens up numerous cooperation opportunities in investment and economic development, the minister stressed, adding that sustainable benefits will be brought should this kind of tourism be well managed by local authorities and draw the involvement of community, he said.

To achieve this, participating countries should share experience and increase cooperation in the field in a joint effort to realise the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations (UN), he added.

Executive Director for Member Relations and Services at the World Tourism Organisation Zoltan Somogyi hailed Vietnam for the successful conference, which he said affirmed the position of the country’s tourism industry in the regional and international integration process and raised the participants’ responsibilities for multilateral tourism cooperation.

He highlighted the event as a good chance for Vietnam and Ninh Binh in particular to promote culture and tourism, helping affirm freedom of belief and religion in the country.

The conference, the first of its kind in Vietnam , was jointly-organised by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Ninh Binh People's Committee.-VNA