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WTO's Affiliate Membership enjoys rapid growth

Travel News Asia 1 July 2005

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) has seen a surge in its Affiliate Membership with 23 more companies and institutions joining the Organization in June, among them the international meetings association Meeting Professionals International (MPI).

Eleven of the new members approved by the Organization's Executive Council are from Europe, seven from the Americas, two from Africa and one each from Asia and the Middle East.

"This big increase in membership demonstrates that the private sector is recognizing the power of increasing public-private partnership, following the shift in WTO strategy towards becoming a more result-oriented international organization," said Affiliate Members' Chief Executive Officer Antonio de la Morena. "It shows the Organization is now seen as a true leader of world tourism, not only by the sovereign states - five more of which will join WTO this year - but also by the private sector."

"Reinforcing the representation of the private sector and civil society is a priority of the Organization, an objective in line with the general guidelines laid down by the United Nations, which invites its specialized agencies to expand the role of representatives of civil society," said Mr de la Morena.

Mr de la Morena said he was particularly pleased to see media companies joining the Affiliates, with TTG Italia among the three latest new members from Italy. The others are the leading non-governmental organization Istituto Cooperazione Economica Internazionale (ICEI) and the University of Molise.

Others from Europe are: European Cities Tourism, Tourism Promotion Services (Serena Hotels) and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development from France; Travel Media Applications, which specializes in information and communication technologies (Greece); the Turiba School of Business Administration (Latvia); Izmir University of Economics (Turkey); air transport facilitation company Route Development Centre (UK), and the Danish association HORESTA which represents the country's hotel, restaurant and tourism sector.

Another new member is the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), which manages the Blue Flag campaign for safe beaches in Europe as well as supporting nature protection in Europe and other continents. 

From the Americas, there are fair organizer Expo Mundial de Turismo and leisure park and accommodation group Grupo Xcarret (Mexico); the Nevada Tourism Commission and event organizers World Tourism Consultancy (USA); the Quebec Tourism Industry Corporation (Canada), the Northeast Tourism Integration Foundation (Brazil), and Proexport, which specializes in the international promotion of tourism (Colombia).

New members from Africa are the Kenya Tourist Board and the Tabasheer Travel & Tourism Agency (Sudan); from the Middle East the Middle East Automobile and Tourism Club (Saudi Arabia); and from Asia the Papua New Guinea National Cultural Centres Trust.

During its meeting in Nessebar, Bulgaria, the Executive Council also unanimously approved the strategic marketing plan for WTO Affiliate Members for 2005-2007 presented by the Chairman of the Affiliate Members Committee, Andr Vallerand, representing Tourisme Montral. 

Mr Vallerand also announced his intention to stand for re-election to a second two-year term as Chairman of the Affiliate Members at the forthcoming session of the WTO General Assembly in Senegal. Chairman of the WTO Business Council Mr Carlos Vogeler of RCI Europe has also announced he is to run for the top post of the WTO Affiliate Members. 

The WTO currently has more than 300 Affiliate Members grouped into three councils: the Business Council, the Education Council and the Destination Council. The strategic marketing plan aims to increase membership to 500 by the end of 2007.

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