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United States Pledges Commitment to Sustainable Tourism

October 21, 2004

United States Pledges Commitment to Sustainable Tourism
October 21, 2004 – The U.S. State Department hosted a briefing for tourism ministers from WTO Member States in Washington, D.C. on October 18, pledging its commitment to sustainable tourism and offering assistance to the developing world.

According to Travel Daily News, John Turner, US Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, hosted the meeting. It was attended by 15 tourism ministers or top-level officials from Paraguay, Nicaragua, Jordan, Honduras, Lesotho, South Africa, Senegal, Nepal, Peru, Haiti, Mozambique, Andorra, South Korea, Morocco, Kenya and the Dominican Republic.

"Tourism is fundamental for creating a constituency for conservation," said Mr. Turner, who went on to stress the importance of tourism in economic development.

Representatives of eight U.S. assistance agencies outlined the programs they have in place to provide international financing or expertise in sustainable tourism development. Typical projects include national parks management, rural tourism development, planning, infrastructure construction, and political risk insurance.

WTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli announced that 900 million international tourist arrivals are predicted by the year 2010 and said WTO`s focus between now and then would be on protecting tourism resources from this onslaught, while at the same time harnessing this phenomenal growth for international development.

Tourism ministers participating in the briefing expressed their concern over the damage that Travel Advisories issued by the State Department can do to their tourism industry. They requested more communication with the issuing agency and more frequent updates.

Members also urged the U.S. officials to rejoin the World Tourism Organization. U.S. Commerce Department representative Douglas Baker said his department is "a strong supporter of the World Tourism Organization and its mission“, adding that the issue was being discussed at the highest levels of the U.S. administration.

The State Department briefing was held on the eve of a major tourism policy forum co-hosted by WTO and George Washington University on October 19 and 20. The forum will bring together developing countries and technical assistance donor agencies to discuss practical cases of sustainable tourism development and seek new opportunities for cooperation in the future.

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