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WTD 2003 to highlight tourism`s vital role in global plan for poverty alleviation

Poverty alleviation, job creation and social harmony are the World Tourism Organization`s (WTO) priorities for 2003 and…

Poverty alleviation, job creation and social harmony are the World Tourism Organization`s (WTO) priorities for 2003 and constitute the main theme of this year`s upcoming World Tourism Day to be celebrated on 27 September 2003.

In our apparently wealthy world, poverty still affects four billion people throughout the world, of which two billion are living with less than one dollar a day, stresses WTO Secretary-General Mr. Francesco Frangialli in his Message for World Tourism Day.

WTO presented the Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) programme at last year`s World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. ST-EP falls within WTO`s broader Liberalization with a Human Face strategy, which has been designed to link the Organization`s Global Code of Ethics with the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the pro-development and sustainability thrusts of the Summits in Doha (trade), Monterrey (funding) and Johannesburg (sustainability). In this context, ST-EP is closely linked to MDG to halve extreme poverty by 2015, as Mr. Frangialli underlined at the recent Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Cancun, Mexico.

Tourism is an important export for 83 per cent of developing countries and it is the main export for one third of them. In 2000, developing countries recorded 292.6 million international arrivals, an increase of nearly 95 per cent on the figures for 1990. Furthermore, in the least developed countries (LDCs), there has been a 75 per cent increase in international arrivals in the past decade. Tourism is the main source of foreign exchange earnings in the 49 LDCs, as listed by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development).

There are a number of proven strategies that can be used to increase overall economic benefits, in ways that have a poverty reduction focus. These include attracting higher-yield market segments and increasing tourists` length of stay plus visitor expenditure, developing complementary products, spreading the benefits of tourism geographically, enhancing local management of tourism and partnerships, reducing the seasonality of tourism and increasing employment and training.

In a year shaken by political turmoil, environmental and natural disasters, international conflicts and new diseases that have affected tourist movements, we are more confident than ever that tourism has the capacity to successfully address some of the main issues which are at the root of such problems, especially extreme poverty and social harmony, says Mr. Frangialli in his message.

We invite all tourism stakeholders, particularly national tourism administrations and the private tourism sector, to strengthen their activities with this new, poverty-reduction focus. We are convinced that they will find numerous ways to combine solidarity with profitability, national tourism growth with employment opportunities for the poor, and long-term business success with socioeconomic sustainability.

The World Tourism Day will be celebrated around the globe on September 27 under the theme Tourism: A Driving Force for Poverty Alleviation, Job Creation and Social Harmony. As they do each year, many countries and companies have prepared special programmes to mark this day.

His Holiness Pope John Paul II has sent out a message underlining the fact that tourist activities can play an important role in fighting povertyand that tourism should be considered as a special expression of social life with economic, financial and cultural implications, as well as consequences that are crucial to individuals and peoples.

Mozambique and Jamaica will dedicate an entire week for the celebration of World Tourism Day. Mozambique`s Prime Minister, Pascoal Mocumbi, is scheduled to visit the tourism fair and festivities organized for the occasion in Tete Province. In Jamaica, a Tourism Achievement Award Ceremony will recognize and showcase community-based tourism enterprises whose work reflects the 2003 World Tourism Day theme.

In Azerbaijan, the 1st Domestic Tourism Exhibition is scheduled to be held on 27 September and festivities in Baku will include a regional cuisine show, as well as sports and entertainment events.

In India, tour operator TORNOS in Lucknow will organize a one-day sightseeing tour for children from the poorer districts. Luxemburg will dedicate a day for children with disabilities (En Dag fir jiddereen): a special Youth Train will gather the children from Rodange to Ettelbruck where upon arrival, a number of activities will be offered to them in different workshops.

As decided at the WTO Executive Council meeting last June, the themes for the 2004 and 2005 will be Sport and tourism: living forces for mutual understanding, culture and the development of societies and From Jules Verne`s transport to tomorrow`s transport respectively.

Co-Founder & Managing Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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