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World Tourism Organization's action to fight poverty gains support of Korea and IADB

Travel News Asia 30 March 2004

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) is undertaking two new initiatives to help in the fight against poverty: a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Republic of Korea to establish the ST-EP Foundation and a Memorandum with the Inter-American Development Bank to co-ordinate support programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Korea has offered its assistance in implementing the keynote ST-EP programme (Sustainable Tourism - Eliminating Poverty) with which WTO, as a new specialized agency of the United Nations, supports the Millennium Development Goals. This includes establishing the headquarters of the new ST-EP Foundation in Seoul and a commitment to provide long-term financial support to the tune of five million US dollars.

By this action, Korea seeks to share its vast experience and knowledge from the successful economic transformation of the past 40 years and channel it into tourism projects that will create jobs, investment and export income in the world's least developed countries.

WTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli met in Seoul with Mr. Lee Chang-dong, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, as well as Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Mr. Frangialli was accompanied by his Special Advisor Mr. Geoffrey Lipman who is responsible for ST-EP implementation. The WTO Executive Council said it will finalize the organizational arrangements for the foundation in July.

Separately Mr. Frangialli has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote sustainable tourism initiatives in Latin American and the Caribbean with Mr. Enrique V. Iglesias, President of the Inter-American Bank. The parties are to collaborate in regional activities tourism research, stimulation of foreign direct investment and promotion of regional integration through tourism, among others.

According to the Secretary-General "We are encouraging other stakeholders - states, institutions and the private sector to focus attention on the role tourism can play in elimination of poverty. Following the agreement that already exists with the World Bank since 1999, these initiatives reaffirm the commitment of WTO to the world's poorest states but ultimately all countries will benefit through peaceful development and cultural understanding".

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