Key events mark UNWTO agenda for the remainder of the year


With World Tourism Day (Accra, Ghana), the UNWTO General Assembly (Astana, Kazakhstan) and the annual Minister’s Summit (London, UK) all planned for the remainder of this year, it promises to be a busy few months for UNWTO. These key events will take place against a background of global challenges and important internal changes at UNWTO.

2009 has been a challenging year for the tourism industry. Economic prospects remain uncertain with tourism numbers down, and the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic has added further insecurity to this situation. The key activities on the agenda of UNWTO will allow it to address these short-term challenges while sticking to its mandate of sustainable tourism, poverty alleviation, and adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.


World Tourism Day, celebrated annually on September 27, will take place this year in Accra, Ghana around the theme “Tourism: Celebrating Diversity.” The main purpose of World Tourism Day is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political, and economic values.

This will be World Tourism Day’s 30th anniversary and presents an opportunity to highlight the important role of sustainable tourism. Tourism is one of the largest sectors of employment worldwide and as such is an engine for socio-economic development and poverty alleviation. In these times of economic crisis, diversity will continue to drive tourism, engendering international cooperation and ensuring sustainable development.


The UNWTO General Assembly brings together tourism ministers and senior officials from national tourism organizations, as well as public, private, and academic Affiliate Members to debate issues of vital importance to the tourism industry. This year ,the 18th Session of the General Assembly will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan from October 5-8.

At the assembly, UNWTO will present its Roadmap for Recovery, a set of guidelines aimed at supporting the sector to overcome the impact of the economic downturn. The Roadmap stresses that the tourism industry must remain resilient, be placed at the core of stimulus programs and play a leading role in the transformation towards the green economy. In addition, the General Assembly will consider the recommendation of the UNWTO Executive Council, for the appointment of Taleb Rifai as UNWTO Secretary-General for the period between 2010 and 2013.

This General Assembly comes at the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere in which experts predict a rise in the number of cases of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus. In view of this, the General Assembly will call for responsible travel while urging governments not to take unilateral measures that may unnecessarily disrupt global travel.


The 3rd annual Minister’s Summit, held in partnership with the World Travel Market on November 10 in London, UK will convene ministers and leading tourism experts to determine the best course of action for the tourism industry.

Discussions at this high-level summit will center on the potential of travel and tourism to stimulate the global economy, as well as its positioning in the transformation to the green economy.

In preparation of the UN climate conference, COP 15 to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark from December 7-18, the summit will highlight how the travel and tourism industry is key to implementing the green economy while continuing to stimulate growth. A new, greener, and cleaner economic framework will emerge from the current crisis and tourism is well-positioned to be at the forefront of this transformation.


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