The World Tourism Organization
Tourism for prosperity and peace
Tourism & Technology
Tourism is a profitable industry in the contemporary era and a major
source of foreign exchange income in countries such as the U.S., Spain,
France, Germany, China, Japan, Greece, Italy, Egypt and Turkey.
Tourism economy like industrial economy has so far passed behind the
three stages of naive, traditional and modern and is about to enter the
stage of post-modernism.
Once tourism used to have a naive nature and explorers such as
Christopher Columbus used to make journeys in a bid to discover new
lands. At the meantime, there have been brave personalities who have
conquered those discovered lands by the means of their knowledge.
However, modern tourism coincides with the application of mechanisms and
techniques which are aimed to develop the industry with an aim to
attract more tourists. To this end, modern means of transportation,
collective visas, charter planes, starred hotels and tourist guides were
employed in the 20 th century and for this reason that period was named
the era of tourism industry.
The World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization (WTO/OMT), a specialized agency of the
United Nations, is the leading international organization in the field
of tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and
practical source of tourism know-how.
With its headquarters in Madrid, Spain, the WTO plays a central and
decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable
and universally accessible tourism, with the aim of contributing to
economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and
universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental
freedoms. In pursuing this aim, the Organization pays particular
attention to the interests of developing countries in the field of
The WTO plays a catalytic role in promoting technology transfers and
international cooperation, in stimulating and developing public-private
sector partnerships and in encouraging the implementation of the Global
Code of Ethics for Tourism, with a view to ensuring that member
countries, tourist destinations and businesses maximize the positive
economic, social and cultural effects of tourism and fully reap its
benefits, while minimizing its negative social and environmental
In 2004, the WTO’s membership is comprised of 144 countries, seven
territories and more than 300 Affiliate Members representing the private
sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism
The World Tourism Organization had its beginnings as the International
Congress of Official Tourist Traffic Associations set up in 1925 in The
Hague. It was renamed the International Union of Official Travel
Organisations (IUOTO) after World War II and moved to Geneva. IUOTO was
a technical, non-governmental organization, whose membership at its peak
included 109 National Tourist Organizations (NTOs) and 88 Associate
Members, among them private and public groups.
As tourism grew and became an integral part of the fabric of modern
life, its international dimension increased and national governments
started to play an increasingly important role-their activities covering
the whole spectrum from infrastructure to regulations. By the mid-1960s,
it became clear that there was a need for more effective tools to keep
developments under review and to provide tourism with intergovernmental
machinery especially equipped to deal with the movement of persons,
tourism policies and tourism’s impacts.
In 1967, the members of IUOTO called for its transformation into an
intergovernmental body empowered to deal on a worldwide basis with all
matters concerning tourism and to cooperate with other competent
organizations, particularly those of the United Nations’ system, such as
the World Health Organization (WHO), UNESCO, and the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO).
A resolution to the same effect was passed in December 1969 by the UN
General Assembly, which recognized the decisive and central role the
transformed IUOTO should play in the field of world tourism in
cooperation with the existing machinery within the UN. Following this
resolution, the WTO’s Statutes were ratified in 1974 by the States whose
official tourist organizations were members of IUOTO.
Thus IUOTO became the World Tourism Organization (WTO) and its first
General Assembly was held in Madrid in May 1975. The Secretariat was
installed in Madrid early the following year at the invitation of the
Spanish Government, which provides a building for the Headquarters.
In 1976, WTO became an executing agency of the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and in 1977, a formal cooperation agreement
was signed with the United Nations itself. In 2003, the WTO will be
converted into a specialized agency of the United Nations and so even
reaffirm its leading role in international tourism.
Since its early years, WTO’s membership and influence in world tourism
have continued to grow. By 2003, its membership included 141 countries,
seven territories and some 350 Affiliate Members, representing the
private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local
Tourism for prosperity and peace
At the start of the new millennium, tourism is firmly established as the
number one industry in many countries and the fastest-growing economic
sector in terms of foreign exchange earnings and job creation.
International tourism is the world’s largest export earner and an
important factor in the balance of payments of most nations.
Tourism has become one of the world’s most important sources of
employment. It stimulates enormous investment in infrastructure, most of
which also helps to improve the living conditions of local people. It
provides governments with substantial tax revenues. Most new tourism
jobs and business are created in developing countries, helping to
equalize economic opportunities and keep rural residents from moving to
Intercultural awareness and personal friendships fostered through
tourism are a powerful force for improving international understanding
and contributing to peace among all the nations of the world.
The WTO recognizes that tourism can have a negative cultural,
environmental and social impact if it is not responsibly planned,
managed and monitored. The WTO thus encourages governments to play a
vital role in tourism, in partnership with the private sector, local
authorities and non-governmental organizations.
In its belief that tourism can be effectively used to address the
problems of poverty, WTO made a commitment to contribute to the United
Nations Millennium Development Goals through a new initiative to develop
sustainable tourism as a force for poverty elimination. The programme,
known as ST-EP (Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty), focuses the
longstanding work of both organizations on encouraging sustainable
tourism with a view to alleviating poverty and was implemented in 2003.
Tourism & Technology
The Internet and other computer technologies are revolutionizing the way
tourism business is conducted and the way destinations are promoted.
WTO’s work in the area of new Information Technologies (IT) aims to
provide leadership in the field of IT and tourism, as well as helping to
bridge the digital divide between the have and have-nots among WTO’s
WTO carries out new research and studies of IT in connection with the
promotion and development of tourism, such as the publications Marketing
Tourism Destinations Online and E-Business for Tourism. Itcommunicates
the content of these studies throughout the world in a series of
WTO also operates a Strategic Advisory Board on IT and Tourism that
brings together a small number of high-level experts from destinations,
private businesses and researchers.
Tourism technology is especially suited to cooperation projects between
the public and private sectors. The objective is to keep all Members
up-to-date on the constantly changing technologies that will affect the
tourism industry in the years to come.
At the end of the twentieth century, tourism is the world’s largest
single industry. Tourism, however, is not only an economic and social
phenomenon, but can be ‘read’ in semiotic terms centered around dreams
of alternatives to everyday life. The images, which today dominate
advertisements for tourist products, had to be constructed and
sustained, invented and remolded over a long historical process. It
seems that without this distinctive historical and cultural ‘baggage’
the remarkable social practice of taking holidays would not have
evolved. Even if tourism saw its most spectacular development in the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries in terms of the numbers involved, it
rests on a cultural foundation inaugurated in the early modern period.
“The Making of Modern Tourism was a long-term process, deeply rooted in
the cultural and intellectual, economic and social history of Britain.
This interdisciplinary volume brings together scholars from fields as
far apart as literary studies and economic history, who trace the
history of tourism from the Renaissance to the present day, combing
fresh findings from ongoing research with state-of-the-art surveys
1. Cristopher Gottlib. The Modern tourism, N-Y, 2007.
2. Alexander Porke. The European tourism, Chicago, Inform Co, 2001.
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