World Tourism Organization
for prosperity and peace
Tourism is a profitable industry in the contemporary
era and a major source of foreign exchange income in countries such as the
U.S., Spain, France, Germany, China, Japan, Greece, Italy, Egypt and Turkey.
Tourism economy like industrial economy has so far
passed behind the three stages of naive, traditional and modern and is about to
enter the stage of post-modernism.
Once tourism used to have a naïve nature and
explorers such as Christopher Columbus used to make journeys in a bid to
discover new lands. At the meantime, there have been brave personalities who
have conquered those discovered lands by the means of their knowledge.
However, modern tourism coincides with the application
of mechanisms and techniques which are aimed to develop the industry with an
aim to attract more tourists. To this end, modern means of transportation,
collective visas, charter planes, starred hotels and tourist guides were
employed in the 20 th century and for this reason that period was named the era
of tourism industry.
World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization (WTO/OMT), a
specialized agency of the United Nations, is the leading international
organization in the field of tourism. It
serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and practical source of
its headquarters in Madrid, Spain, the WTO plays a central and decisive role in
promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally
accessible tourism, with the aim of contributing to economic development,
international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and
observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms. In pursuing this aim, the
Organization pays particular attention to the interests of developing countries
in the field of tourism.
WTO plays a catalytic role in promoting technology transfers and international
cooperation, in stimulating and developing public-private sector partnerships
and in encouraging the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism,
with a view to ensuring that member countries, tourist destinations and
businesses maximize the positive economic, social and cultural effects of
tourism and fully reap its benefits, while minimizing its negative social and
2004, the WTO"s membership is comprised of 144 countries, seven territories and
more than 300 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational
institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
The World Tourism Organization had its beginnings as
the International Congress of Official Tourist Traffic Associations set up in 1925 in The Hague. It was renamed the International Union of Official Travel Organisations (IUOTO)
after World War II and moved to Geneva. IUOTO was a technical, non-governmental
organization, whose membership at its peak included 109 National Tourist
Organizations (NTOs) and 88 Associate Members, among them private and public
As tourism grew and became an integral part of the
fabric of modern life, its international dimension increased and national
governments started to play an increasingly important role-their activities
covering the whole spectrum from infrastructure to regulations. By the
mid-1960s, it became clear that there was a need for more effective tools to
keep developments under review and to provide tourism with intergovernmental
machinery especially equipped to deal with the movement of persons, tourism
policies and tourism"s impacts.
In 1967, the members of IUOTO called for its
transformation into an intergovernmental body empowered to deal on a worldwide
basis with all matters concerning tourism and to cooperate with other competent
organizations, particularly those of the United Nations" system, such as the
World Health Organization (WHO), UNESCO, and the International Civil Aviation
A resolution to the same effect was passed in December
1969 by the UN General Assembly, which recognized the decisive and central role
the transformed IUOTO should play in the field of world tourism in cooperation
with the existing machinery within the UN. Following this resolution, the WTO"s
Statutes were ratified in 1974 by the States whose official tourist
organizations were members of IUOTO.
Thus IUOTO became the World Tourism Organization (WTO)
and its first General Assembly was held in Madrid in May 1975. The Secretariat
was installed in Madrid early the following year at the invitation of the Spanish
Government, which provides a building for the Headquarters.
In 1976, WTO became an executing agency of the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in 1977, a formal cooperation agreement was signed with the United Nations itself. In 2003, the WTO will
be converted into a specialized agency of the United Nations and so even
reaffirm its leading role in international tourism.
Since its early years, WTO"s membership and influence
in world tourism have continued to grow. By 2003, its membership included 141
countries, seven territories and some 350 Affiliate Members, representing the
private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local
for prosperity and peace
At the start of the new millennium, tourism is firmly
established as the number one industry in many countries and the
fastest-growing economic sector in terms of foreign exchange earnings and job
International tourism is the world"s largest export earner
and an important factor in the balance of payments of most nations.
Tourism has become one of the world"s most important
sources of employment. It stimulates enormous investment in infrastructure,
most of which also helps to improve the living conditions of local people. It
provides governments with substantial tax revenues. Most new tourism jobs and
business are created in developing countries, helping to equalize economic
opportunities and keep rural residents from moving to overcrowded cities.
Intercultural awareness and personal friendships
fostered through tourism are a powerful force for improving international
understanding and contributing to peace among all the nations of the world.
The WTO recognizes that tourism can have a negative
cultural, environmental and social impact if it is not responsibly planned,
managed and monitored. The WTO thus encourages governments to play a vital role
in tourism, in partnership with the private sector, local authorities and
In its belief that tourism can be effectively used to
address the problems of poverty, WTO made a commitment to contribute to the
United Nations Millennium Development Goals through a new initiative to develop
sustainable tourism as a force for poverty elimination. The programme, known as
ST-EP (Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty), focuses the longstanding work
of both organizations on encouraging sustainable tourism with a view to
alleviating poverty and was implemented in 2003.
The Internet and other computer technologies are
revolutionizing the way tourism business is conducted and the way destinations
are promoted. WTO"s work in the area of
new Information Technologies (IT) aims to provide leadership in the field of IT
and tourism, as well as helping to bridge the digital divide between the have
and have-nots among WTO"s membership.
carries out new research and studies of IT in connection with the promotion and
development of tourism, such as the publications Marketing Tourism Destinations
Online and E-Business for Tourism. It
communicates the content of these studies throughout the world in a series of
also operates a Strategic Advisory Board on IT and Tourism that brings together
a small number of high-level experts from destinations, private businesses and
technology is especially suited to cooperation projects between the public and
private sectors. The objective is to keep all Members up-to-date on the
constantly changing technologies that will affect the tourism industry in the
years to come.
At the end of the twentieth century, tourism is the
world"s largest single industry. Tourism, however, is not only an economic and
social phenomenon, but can be "read" in semiotic terms centered around dreams
of alternatives to everyday life. The images, which today dominate
advertisements for tourist products, had to be constructed and sustained,
invented and remolded over a long historical process. It seems that without
this distinctive historical and cultural "baggage" the remarkable social
practice of taking holidays would not have evolved. Even if tourism saw its
most spectacular development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in terms
of the numbers involved, it rests on a cultural foundation inaugurated in the
early modern period. "The Making of Modern Tourism was a long-term
process, deeply rooted in the cultural and intellectual, economic and social
history of Britain. This interdisciplinary volume brings together scholars from
fields as far apart as literary studies and economic history, who trace the
history of tourism from the Renaissance to the present day, combing fresh
findings from ongoing research with state-of-the-art surveys
Cristopher Gottlib. The
Modern tourism, N-Y, 2007.
Alexander Porke. The
European tourism, Chicago, Inform Co, 2001.