The frequent confusion between the two WTOs - World Tourism Organization and the Geneva-based World Trade Organization - officially ended today when the General Assembly approved to add the letters UN (for United Nations) to the start of acronym of the international tourism body in English and in Russian.
The problem - especially for the media - arose when the name World Trade Organization was adopted and with it the acronym WTO in English, a problem that did not arise in other languages where ‘trade’ translated as ‘commerce’ and it became the OMC.
“Various suggestions were put forward, including attaching the French or Spanish acronym to the English to make WTO/OMT, or follow the practice used by the United Nations Secretariat which refers to WTO (Trade) and WTO (Tourism),” said Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli.
“But since the transformation of the World Tourism Organization into a specialized agency of the UN, strengthening our relationship to the United Nations system, it was felt the best solution was to refer to our own Organization as UNWTO.”
Although the World Trade Organization also belongs to the United Nations system it is only a ‘related agency’, the same status held by the World Tourism Organization before becoming a specialized agency.
“When we approached the other WTO with our proposal they informed us they would be very grateful if we changed our acronym, thus freeing both organizations from the frequent confusion,” added Mr Frangialli.
The official go-ahead was given in January when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave his consent to adding the United Nations’ initials, and the modification was approved by the Executive Council in June.
UNWTO acronym remains OMT in French and Spanish. UNWTO General Assembly will conclude its work at its 16th session in Dakar, Senegal, on 2 December.