World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialized agency entrusted with the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, having its headquarters in Madrid, Spain. It is the leading international organization in the field of tourism, which promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers the sector leadership and support in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism research and knowledge. It encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to maximize the contribution of tourism to socio-economic development, while minimizing its possible negative impacts, and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), geared towards eliminating poverty and fostering sustainable development and peace worldwide.
|Formation||1 November 1975|
|Type||United Nations specialized agency|
As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.
The official languages of UNWTO are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism stood at an all-time high: 1 out of 10 jobs worldwide depended on tourism and international tourism arrivals reached 1.5 billion in 2019.
Against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty, UNWTO conveyed the Global Tourism Crisis Committee to guide the tourism sector as it faced up to the COVID-19 challenge.
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.
Improving tourism competitiveness: Improving UNWTO Members’ competitiveness through knowledge creation and exchange, human resources development and the promotion of excellence in areas such as policy planning, statistics and market trends, sustainable tourism development, marketing and promotion, product development and risk and crisis management.
Promoting sustainable tourism development: Supporting sustainable tourism policies and practices: policies 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: Maximizing the contribution of tourism to poverty reduction and achieving the MDGs by making tourism work as a tool for development and promoting the inclusion of tourism in the development agenda.
Fostering knowledge, education and capacity building: Supporting countries to assess and address their needs in education and training, as well as providing networks for knowledge creation and exchange.
Building partnerships: Engaging with the private sector, regional and local tourism organizations, academia and research institutions, civil society and the UN system to build a more sustainable, responsible and competitive tourism sector.
UNWTO and COVID-19
The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, and tourism is the worst affected of all major economic sectors. Against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty, up-to-date and reliable information is more important than ever, both for tourists and for the tourism sector. UNWTO´s priorities shifted towards recovery of tourism increasing its efforts:
- By cooperating closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), the lead UN agency for the management of this outbreak;
- by ensuring with WHO that health measures are implemented in ways that minimize unnecessary impact on international travel and trade;
- by standing in solidarity with affected countries; and
- by emphasizing tourism’s proven resilience and by standing ready to support recovery.
UNWTO COVID-19 Resources
Sustainability as the new normal - To mark World Environment Day, the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme led by UNWTO announces its new vision for global tourism– growing better, stronger, and balancing the needs of people, planet and prosperity.
Tourism Recovery - Governments have responded quickly and strongly with the level and coverage of measures steeping up over time. Most countries have adopted economy-wide stimulus packages (fiscal and monetary measures) along with job support measures.
Restarting Tourism - At its fifth meeting, UNWTO changed the emphasis towards restarting tourism. The Committee endorsed UNWTO’s Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism, an action plan focused on the Priorities for Tourism Recovery.
Recovery for Action - Supporting Jobs and Economies Through Travel & Tourism. A Call for Action to Mitigate the Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 and Accelerate Recovery
Travel Restrictions - This latest research shows that while discussions on possible first measures for lifting restrictions are underway, 100% of destinations worldwide still have COVID-19 related travel restrictions for international tourists in place.
Tourism Recovery Tracker - As tourism slowly restarts in an increasing number of countries, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has developed the first comprehensive tourism recovery tracker worldwide, monitoring a number of relevant indicators throughout the recovery of tourism.
Latest impact assessment - The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer monitors short-term tourism trends on a regular basis to provide global tourism stakeholders with up-to-date analysis on international tourism.
Plastics and COVID-19 - A new set of Recommendations published today outline how the global tourism sector can continue in its fight against plastic pollution while effectively facing the public health and hygiene challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package - We are facing an unprecedented global health crisis, the repercussions of which are being felt in all sectors of society and the economy.
Knowledge - Improve your skills and knowledge by joining the webinars delivered by UNWTO and those created and delivered directly by our partner Institutions and experts. You can join Live Webinars or come back to them in our Recorded Webinars’ section.
UNWTO Global Tourism Dashboard - Loss of 850 million to 1.1 billon international tourists. Loss of US$ 910 billion to US$ 1.2 trillion in export revenues from tourism. 100 to 120 million jobs at risk
Measures to support tourism - This compilation of country and international policy responses aims to share and monitor worldwide measures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 crisis in the travel and tourism sector and accelerate recovery.
Supporting Recovery - UNWTO calls for solid international leadership and for tourism to be included as a priority in future recovery efforts
Health advice for tourists - As the COVID-19 situation evolves, many people around the world continue to travel: for leisure, for business and for vital humanitarian reasons.
Know the Impact - International tourism has seen continued expansion, despite occasional shocks, demonstrating the sector’s strength and resilience and benefiting all regions in the world.
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has long considered the public and private sector to be integral partners in fulfilling its general mandate of promoting sustainable development in tourism. In addition, UNWTO is the only agency of the United Nations that has private sector members that participate in the governance structure. We believe that the public and private sectors share many common objectives which, in today´s globalized world, can be more effectively tackled through collaboration and the establishment of partnerships.
UNWTO members have endorsed the Management Vision and Priorities of the Secretary-General which seeks to position tourism as a policy priority, lead in knowledge creation, enhance the Organization’s capacity through building new and stronger partnerships, and offer better value for existing Members while also expanding membership.
“It is absolutely crucial to work towards the enhancement of a new generation of partnerships, partnerships not only with governments, not only with civil society and academia but equally partnerships with the business community in the context of the perspective of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, creating the conditions for an inclusive and sustainable development – the best way to prevent crises and conflicts in today’s world”. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
To realize the Management Vision, UNWTO’s work is based around five distinct pillars:
- making tourism smarter through celebrating innovation and leading the digital transformation of the sector;
- making tourism more competitive at every level through promoting investment and promoting entrepreneurship;
- creating more and better jobs and providing relevant training;
- building resilience and promoting safe and seamless travel; and
- harnessing tourism’s unique potential to protect cultural and natural heritage and to support communities both economically and socially.
Membership of the UNWTO includes 158 states, six territories (Flemish Community (1997), Puerto Rico (2002), Aruba (1987), Hong Kong (1999), Macau (1981), Madeira (1995)), and two permanent observers (Holy See (1979), Palestine (1999)). Seventeen state members have withdrawn from the organization for different periods in the past: Australia (citing poor value for money), Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada (Canada withdrew from the World Tourism Organization when it appointed Robert Mugabe as a leader in 2013), Costa Rica, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Kuwait, Latvia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Thailand, United Kingdom and Puerto Rico (as an associate member). The Netherlands Antilles was an associate member before its dissolution.
Non-members are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Comoros, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Guyana, Iceland, Ireland, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States.
Additionally, and uniquely for a United Nations specialized agency, UNWTO has over 500 affiliate members, representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities, non-governmental entities with specialised interests in tourism, and commercial and non-commercial bodies and associations with activities related to the aims of UNWTO or falling within its competence.
|Name||Years of Tenure|
|Antonio Enriquez Savignac||1990–1996|
The General Assembly is the principal gathering of the World Tourism Organization. It meets every two years to approve the budget and programme of work and to debate topics of vital importance to the tourism sector. Every four years it elects a Secretary-General. The General Assembly is composed of full members and associate members. Affiliate members and representatives of other international organizations participate as observers. The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly.
The Executive Council is UNWTO's governing board, responsible for ensuring that the Organization carries out its work and adheres to its budget. It meets at least twice a year and is composed of members elected by the General Assembly in a ratio of one for every five full members. As host country of UNWTO's headquarters, Spain has a permanent seat on the Executive Council. Representatives of the associate members and affiliate members participate in Executive Council meetings as observers.
Specialized committees of UNWTO members advise on management and programme content. These include: the Programme Committee, the Committee on Budget and Finance, the Committee on Statistics and the Tourism Satellite Account, the Committee on Market and Competitiveness, the Sustainable Development of Tourism Committee, the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, the Committee on Poverty Reduction and the Committee for the Review of applications for affiliate membership.
The Secretariat is responsible for implementing UNWTO's programme of work and serving the needs of members and affiliate members. The group is led by Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili of Georgia, who supervises about 110 full-time staff at UNWTO's Madrid headquarters. The Secretariat also includes a regional support office for Asia-Pacific in Osaka, Japan, financed by the Japanese Government, and a liaison office in Geneva as UNWTO's representation to the UN System, the World Trade Organization, and other diplomatic organizations in Switzerland.
- UNWTO Annual Report
- UNWTO Declarations
- UNWTO Fact Sheets
- UNWTO World Tourism Barometer
- Knowledge Network Issues Paper Series
- Visa Openness Report
UNWTO research concluded that, by improving visa processes and entry formalities, G20 economies could boost their international tourist numbers by 122 million, tourism exports by US$2016 billion and employment by 5 million.
The Organization's latest UNWTO Visa Openness Report, published in 2016, shows the highest ever percentage of international tourists not requiring a visa to travel - 39% compared with 23% in 2008. The report concluded that the 30 countries whose citizens were least affected by visa restrictions in 2015 were (based on the data compiled by the UNWTO, based on information from national official institutions):
|Rank||Country||Mobility index (out of 215 with no visa weighted by 1, visa on arrival weighted by 0.7, eVisa by 0.5 and traditional visa weighted by 0)|
|1||Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Singapore, United Kingdom||160|
|8||France, Japan Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, United States||159|
|14||Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland||158|
|21||Austria, Greece, Malta||157|
|24||Czech Republic, New Zealand||156|
|26||Hungary, Iceland, Malaysia||155|
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