The World Tourism Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism. Its headquarters are located in Madrid, Spain. The organization is funded by the United Nations. Its goals are to improve tourism around the world and foster sustainable and inclusive growth. Learn more about the organization’s goals and activities.
COVID-19, the World Tourism Organization’s 19th Summit, has been a failure for the tourism sector. It has stunted globalisation and reduced international cooperation, and has negatively impacted the tourism industry as a whole. This crisis presents an opportunity for the tourism sector to align its policies and practices with the SDGs and build resilience, resource efficiency and social inclusion. It can also foster economic diversification and MSMEs.
The UNWTO has pledged to support its members through its technical assistance program. It also supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Several of the SDGs relate to tourism, such as SDGs 8, 12 and 17 related to responsible consumption and decent work. Tourism is an important part of the global economy, employing one in every ten people worldwide.
Functions of the World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization is an international organization that promotes tourism, improves the living conditions of country dwellers, and contributes to world economic growth. It is composed of more than 160 Member States and 500 Affiliate Members. It acts as an international coordination agency, providing services to member countries and coordinating their interests in the tourism industry. In addition, it has a world committee for tourism ethics and works to promote sustainable tourism.
The Organization’s research program focuses on tourism market and economic analysis techniques. It is also concerned with sustainability, accessibility, gender empowerment, and digital tourism. The organisation also works to improve the human resource development of developing countries.
Funding sources of UNWTO
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the UN agency that works on sustainable tourism development. The organization promotes responsible tourism as an essential component of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is the only agency in the United Nations that has private sector membership. The organization believes that the public and private sectors share many common objectives and can more effectively address global issues through partnership and collaboration.
The World Tourism Organization’s funding comes from a variety of sources. Traditionally, it has depended on international financial institutions to provide funds for projects. Some of the biggest grant funders, such as USAID, have recently announced cutbacks in their financial support for the region. Moreover, the Canadian government has already indicated that it will reduce foreign aid to the region. Nevertheless, there is new funding coming from development banking institutions. These institutions are realizing the importance of nature and heritage tourism for the development of the region and have opened soft funding windows.
Impact of COVID-19 on international tourism
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international tourism is far-reaching, with an estimated global decline of between 70 and 88 percent in 2020. This crisis has disproportionately affected developing countries, with arrivals in those countries declining by 60 to 80 per cent. This is partly due to inequity in the roll-out of the vaccine, which magnifies the negative impact on the tourism sector. It is estimated that the crisis could cost 60 per cent of global GDP.
The economies of many countries that rely heavily on tourism are small, have GDP per capita in the middle-income range, and are net debtors. Some of these countries include the Seychelles, Cyprus, and Jamaica.
Portugal’s membership in UNWTO
Portugal’s election to the UNWTO’s Executive Council has a number of implications for the industry. The council determines interventions priorities and the plan of action for the world organization. Portugal has been a member of the WTO since 1976 and was first elected to the council in 1985. In 2005, it was re-elected, making it the first country to serve two consecutive terms on the body.
Portugal supports the goals of the UNWTO, including developing sustainable tourism. Moreover, it supports tourism as a driver of growth and development in the country. Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism recently reaffirmed the importance of tourism in the country. A UNWTO delegation also met with the country’s Secretary of State for Digital Transformation to discuss the future of Portuguese tourism.