UNWTO Executive Council Fighting Poverty and Improving Cultural Understanding

Travel News Asia Friday, 24 November 2006

The importance of tourism and its contribution to the process of economic and social development, within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, was underscored during the Executive Council of the UNWTO, meeting in Algiers for its 79th session on November 20th and 21st.

Under the chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Tijani Haddad, Minister of Tourism of Tunisia, the UNWTO Executive Council decided to endorse its Secretary General's report on the following major challenges facing the sector and proposals for strengthening the organization's capacity to respond:

Promoting the economic impacts of tourism - Managing site congestion and enhancing infrastructure - Liberalizing tourism services - Managing socio-cultural impacts - Integrating into peace processes - Embracing Information and Communication Technology into all aspects of management - Intensifying the fight against poverty - Strengthening public-private partnerships - Preparing to manage crises

The Chairman said that there is a window of opportunity for this incredible industry to help respond to major challenges facing the world community, particularly in the fight against poverty and in improving cultural understanding and harmony. Poor countries all have tourism export activity and people to people contact is the best way to build peace and understanding. The World Tourism Organization is well placed as the central UN Agency for the sector to lead this initiative

UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli added we are committed to use our resources and our networks in the service of world peace and the Millennium Development Goals and to harness the capacity of public sector, private sector and civil society for these purposes.

The Executive Council decided specifically to strengthen a number of key programmes:

- To support, the fight against poverty - most notably by rationalizing technical assistance programs and projects within the framework of its Sustainable Tourism for the Elimination of Poverty(ST-EP).

- To ensure effective response to emergencies - endorsing action within the UN System to prepare for a possible avian flu pandemic, to extend this approach to other crisis situations and to provide a web based portal for effective support and communications to stakeholders in crisis situations.

- To encourage stronger security while enhancing facilitation (SAFE) and to explore new legal and technology processes, with a clear emphasis on ensuring that poor countries have the necessary technology.

- To strengthen public-private partnerships - supporting a new focus for its Affiliate Members, including an initiative to develop a UNWTO Centre of Excellence for Destinations in Montreal, Canada.

Furthermore the meeting in Algiers agreed to the staging of major international summits on Tourism's interface with Economics, Climate Change, Religion & Cultural Dialogue and with Parliamentarians and Local Authorities.

The Executive Council welcomed measures for rationalization within the UN System and to improve the more efficient integration of tourism through a UN Tourism Exchange Network (UNTEN).

See other recent news regarding: UNWTO, Tourism

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