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Tourism can help reduce poverty, WTO tells UN Trade and Development Conference

Travel News Asia 15 June 2004

"Tourism can be a key factor in the fight for accelerated development, education, employment and dignity for the world's poorest countries," said Geoffrey Lipman, Special Advisor to the World Tourism Organization's Secretary-General at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Increasing foreign exchange, promoting entrepreneurship, stimulating infrastructure investment and creating millions of skilled jobs in tourism can make a significant contribution to the Millennium Development Goals. "We must ensure that the small portion of international tourism currently attributed to the world's poorest countries is radically increased by 2015. But to do this we need to heighten its focus in development and trade strategies" stressed Mr. Lipman. 

The World Tourism Organization is calling for "Liberalization with a Human Face" in the Doha Development Round - a progressive asymmetrical loosening of restraints with special benefits for the poorest, with safety nets and real regard for sustainability.

"Tourism expansion in the least developed countries is not a zero sum game - it provides many benefits for the industry, the consumers and the foreign aid strategies of the rich origin countries. What is now needed is a visionary focus on this win - win sector by all states as a development tool par excellence: the political will at the national and institutional level, to put tourism at the core of policymaking" Lipman added.

The conference, which started on Monday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is UNCTAD's highest decision-making body. It meets every four years to set priorities and guidelines for the organization, and provides an opportunity to debate key economic and development issues. This year's main theme is "Enhancing the coherence between national development strategies and global economic processes towards economic growth and development, particularly of developing countries."

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