AS the countdown to the first ever United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly to be held in Africa, south of the Sahara continues, it is critical for all and sundry to understand the organisation and what it stands for.
While there has been a lot of hype in the media about the hosting matrix and preparations, no one has really taken the responsibility to explain the organisation.
World Tourism Organisation is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
As the leading international organisation in the field of tourism economy growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability, it offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.
UNWTO has come up with a Global Code of Ethics for Tourism contribution while at the same time thriving to minimise its possible negative impacts.
The organisation is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development.
UNWTO’s priorities are mainstreaming tourism in the global agenda: Advocating the value of tourism as a driver of socio-economic growth and development, its inclusion as a priority in national and international policies and the need to create a level playing field for the sector to develop and prosper.
It also thrives to work on improving tourism competitiveness exchange, human resources development and the promotion of excellence in areas such as policy and planning, statistics and market trends, sustainable tourism development, marketing and promotion, product development and risk and crisis management.
UNWTO seeks to promote sustainable tourism policies and practices which make optimal use of environmental resources, respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities and provide socio-economic benefits for all.
Advancing tourism’s contribution to poverty reduction and development is a top priority in as much as maximising the contribution of tourism to poverty reduction and achieving the MDGs by making tourism work a tool for development and promoting the inclusion of tourism in the development agenda.
One of the agendas is supporting countries to access and address education and training, as well as providing networks for knowledge creation and exchange.
UNWTO believes in engaging with the private sector, regional and local tourism organisations, academia and research institutions, civil society and the UN system to build a more sustainable, responsible and competitive tourism sector.
The UNWTO secretariat is based in Madrid, Spain. The secretariat is led by a secretary general and organised into programmes covering issues such as sustainability, education, tourism trends and marketing, sustainable development, statistics and Tourism Satellite Account. The UNWTO General Assembly is a biannual event, held on a rotating basis among the 160 member states on equal opportunities.
For Zimbabwe it will take three or four more generations after us to host the even
Isdore Guvamombe Tourism Matrix