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XVIII Session of the UNWTO General Assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan

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Around 360 delegates representing 112 countries meet this week in Astana, Kazakhstan, on the occasion of the XVIII session of the UNWTO General Assembly.

The gathering convened by the UN specialized agency for tourism will set the ground for how the travel and tourism sector can face the current economic downturn while staying on track with the twin challenges of climate change response and poverty alleviation. This Assembly will also initiate a far-reaching internal reform, starting with the election of a new Secretary-General.

Tourism Ministers and senior officials from National Tourism Organizations around the world, as well as public, private and academic Affiliate Members, will discuss the UNWTO Roadmap for Recovery, which is at the centre of the general debate of this Assembly.

The General Assembly will stress the potential of the travel and tourism sector to play an essential role in post crisis recovery by providing jobs, infrastructure, stimulating trade and development and should be a key consideration at future global economic summits. Against this backdrop, the Roadmap calls on world leaders to place tourism and travel at the core of stimulus packages and the transformation to the Green Economy.

On the recommendation of the UNWTO Executive Council, UNWTO Secretary-General ad interim Taleb Rifai is expected to be appointed UNWTO Secretary-General for the period 2010-2013. on taking up his 4 year mandate in January 2010, Mr. Rifai will start to implement his management strategy structured around UNWTO membership, partnerships and governance.

Other key issues to be addressed include, among others, the facilitation of tourist travel, pandemic preparedness in the framework of Influenza A(H1N1), and technical cooperation to promote sustainable development through travel and tourism.

The 18th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly will be solemnly inaugurated by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

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