United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the part played by tourism in encouraging the development of poorer nations and the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) role in this when he visited the organization in Madrid.“Tourism really has the potential of opening up economic space for people around the world,” he told staff gathered to greet him at the headquarters building where UNWTO was hosting a meeting of the UN’s Chief Executives Board (CEB) for the first time.
“We should encourage tourist developers to go and set up tourist developments,” he said, and in doing so to help provide basic amenities such as electricity and clean water for the communities living in those areas. This would help “uplift” the local people, “encouraging them to produce for the tourists.”
Recalling his own past involvement in tourism projects in his native Ghana, the Secretary-General also said tourists should not be offered Europe abroad. “We really need to get them to not only interact with the people but also to offer them authentic culture.”
He thanked UNWTO staff for being part of the UN’s contact with the public, for having “an impact on how we are perceived and how we achieve our goals.
You may be small but perform an effective mandate…. bringing countries together and facilitating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals” .
In welcoming Mr Annan, UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli said that as one of the biggest categories of international trade, tourism has “the capacity to contribute decisively in the fight against poverty”. “This is the reason why many of the agencies present here today are taking a growing interest in its development.”
Mr. Frangialli launched on Friday an exchange network among the different United Nations agencies and bodies interested in tourism (UNTEN). “Let us clarify: it is not called UNTEN because it would involve only ten privileged agencies! Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join. UNTEN stands for ‘United Nations Tourism Exchange Network’,” he said.
And with the UN Secretary-General celebrating his birthday in Madrid the following day - as also happened in 2002 - Mr Frangialli encouraged him to “make a tradition out of it, and come to see us in Spain each time that we celebrate the return of spring.”