The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO or simply WTO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that was established in 1974 in Madrid, Spain. The main goals of the UNWTO are to develop and promote sustainable tourism that contributes to peace, economic development, and universal respect for human rights without distinction based on race, religion, language, and sex. The UNWTO is the leading international organization for tourism, and promotes the industry as a significant contributor to economic growth, while also supporting the advancement of the industry's knowledge and policies. The headquarters of the World Tourism Organization is located in Madrid, Spain, and the official languages of the organization are Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
History Of The UNWTO
The origin of the World Tourism Organization dates back to 1925 when the first global congress of official tourist organizations was held in The Hague, Netherlands. The congress continued to meet every year and eventually decided to create an official union, called the International Union of Official Tourist Publicity Organizations (IUOTPO), which was established in 1934. Following the Second World War, the IUOTPO restructured itself and became the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO). The primary objective of the IUOTO was to promote tourism while extracting the best out of the industry as a global trade component. In 1967, the IUOTO declared the need to establish a body with the power to work with other international organizations, such as the United Nations.
The IUOTO voted in favor of forming the World Tourism Organization in 1970, and the WTO began to operate on November 1, 1974. In 2003, during the fifteenth general meeting of the WTO in 2003, the WTO and United Nations agreed the WTO would become a specialized agency of the UN. The UNWTO created a World Committee on Tourist Ethics in 2004, and committee members were elected based on professional capabilities instead of national affiliations. The permanent headquarters of the World Committee on Tourist Ethics is located in Rome, Italy.
Membership of the World Tourism Organization includes 158 nations, 6 territories, and two permanent observers. The six territories include Madeira, Flemish Community, Macau, Hong Kong, and Puerto Rico, and Aruba, while the two permanent observers are Palestine and the Holy See. Additionally, 17 nations have withdrawn from the UNWTO, at least temporarily, including Canada, Belgium, Bahamas, Bahrain, Kuwait, Honduras, Grenada, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Myanmar, the United Kingdom, and Panama. For example, Canada withdrew in 2003 after Robert Mugabe became the leader of the UNWTO, and Puerto Rico resigned as UNWTO'S associate member. The Netherland Antilles was an associate member of the UNWTO before the constituent country dissolved in 2010.
Some non-member states include Somalia, the United States, Sweden, Luxembourg, Ireland, Denmark, Barbados, Tonga, Samoa, Singapore, New Zealand, and Liechtenstein. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) rejoined the UNWTO in 2013 after leaving for 26 years. The UNWTO has more than 500 affiliate members representing tourism associations, educational institutions, the private sector, and local tourism authorities.
The principal gathering of the organization is the General Assembly, which meets every two years. The Executive Council of the UNWTO is responsible for governing the board and ensuring that it functions and adheres to the budget. The primary function of the Secretariat is to serve the needs of all affiliate members while implementing the organization's program. Additionally, specialized committees advise on program content and management.