Representatives from governments and industry strongly backed the World Tourism Organization’s call to increase tourism to help realize the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
Meeting at the invitation of WTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli in New York on the eve of the Special United Nations General Assembly, they agreed a declaration that calls on the United Nations and public, private and civil society decision makers worldwide to encourage tourism as one of the most effective tools for sustainable growth in the world’s poorest countries.
UNICEF, ICAO, NEPAD, UNDP, UNCTAD as well as Ministers of Tourism, industry leaders and NGO’s joined with the World Tourism Organization (WTO).
“Tourism needs greater recognition by governments and development institutions for its capacity to generate economic, environmental and social benefits,” Mr. Frangialli said. “It is also a sector that promotes inter-cultural understanding and peace among nations.”
“For poor countries and small island states, tourism is the leading export - often the only sustainable growth sector of their economies and a catalyst for many related sectors. It can play a key role in the overall achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015”
The Declaration calls for:
* Tourism to be integrated into all development and poverty reduction strategies, with an emphasis on positive linkages with local economic activities.
* Increased recognition of the role of Tourism in national economies, using Tourism Satellite Accounts to measure the scale of the sector and its linkages with other sectors.
* Good governance by host countries and tourism providers, with a strong emphasis on social and cultural development, built around the WTO Global Code of Ethics and the campaign against exploitation of children.
* Mobilization of financing for tourism infrastructure, market access, human capacity and technology in developing states as well as local level micro credit schemes.
* Support for the WTO ST-EP initiative to use Sustainable Tourism for Elimination of Poverty (ST-EP) through ecotourism, sports tourism and rural tourism programs at community level.
* Recognition of the interrelationship of aviation and tourism as well as the need to increase air service access to poor countries, and special measures and funding to meet safety, security and facilitation standards for those markets.
Action to harness the human resource potential of poor people in the delivery of quality service through the tourism value chain.
* Higher priority for tourism liberalization in the Doha Development Round, to capitalise at the forthcoming Hong Kong Summit on its potential as an export and economic driver for small island and poor states.
* Support for the 2003 Djerba Declaration on Climate Change and Tourism so that the industry can effectively play its role in greenhouse gas reduction and destinations are protected from adverse impacts of climate change.
* Endorsement of the UN Secretary-General’s initiatives to introduce innovative financial support mechanisms for development, while urging that any voluntary taxes aimed at air travel respect international aviation accords and avoid burdening tourism flows to poor countries.
Improved access to the UNDP’s GEF (Global Environment Facility) funding for tourism development projects - particularly ecotourism and water development projects.
The Declaration was transmitted to all States and Organizations participating in the 60th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.