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What is UNWTO?

What is UNWTO?

What is UNWTO?

As the region counts down towards the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s General Assembly to be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe in August 2013 in Victoria Falls and Livingstone, it is important to understand the institutions governing world tourism and why this conference is so crucial for the regional growth and development of tourism.

The United Nations is an international organisation made up of 193 of the 196 countries in the world. It was established to promote international peace, cooperation and human rights. UNWTO is affiliated to the United Nations and mirrors its structures. The tourism sector has taken the prefix UN to differentiate the acronym WTO from that of the trade sector whose organisation is the World Trade Organisation.

The UNWTO General Assembly is the forum where the tourism ministers of member countries congregate to discuss policy issues affecting the sector. It is held every alternate year and has a similar set up to the UN General Assembly in New York; however, the tourism sector is unique in holding its general assembly outside New York and away from its own headquarters in Madrid, Spain.

UNWTO has six regional commissions; issues relating to tourism in sub-Saharan Africa are discussed under the Commission for Africa with a membership of 48 countries.

Zambia and Zimbabwe are also members of the promotional and marketing agency, the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa, which is a subsidiary of a regional economic grouping of 14 member states, the Southern Africa Development Community. It is important that the private sector in tourism takes a keen interest in these forums which contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for business at regional, continental and international levels.

Fact File
 - This is the second UNWTO General Assembly to be held in Africa, after Senegal, 2007.
- Statistically it might take another 400 years for the next conference to be considered for Africa.
- 2013 is the first time co-hosting has been adopted.
- The 2013 meeting is in a resort; most previous gatherings have taken in the capital cities of hosting countries.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 08, March 2012)

Read more on UNWTO from the Zambezi Traveller:
Zambia & Zimbabwe hailed in the region (ZT, Issue 13, June 2013)
What is UNWTO? (ZT, Issue 13, June 2013)
Countdown to UNWTO (ZT, Issue 13, June 2013)