Short for United Nations World Tourism Organization according to abbreviationfinder, UNWTO is the United Nations agency in charge of promoting responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism for all. As the leading international organization in the tourism field, it advocates for tourism that contributes to economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability, and offers leadership and support to the sector to expand its knowledge and tourism policies throughout the world. It defends the application of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to maximize the socioeconomic contribution of the sector, while minimizing its possible negative impacts, and has committed to promoting tourism as an instrument to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals(ODS), aimed at reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development throughout the world. It generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in more than 100 countries of the world.
Its members include 158 countries, 6 Associate Members and more than 500 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
The main bodies of the World Tourism Organization are:
- General Assembly:is the main body of the World Tourism Organization. It meets every two years to approve its budget and work program and to discuss issues of vital importance to the tourism sector. Every four years it elects the Secretary General. The General Assembly is made up of Full and Associate Members. Affiliate Members and representatives of other international organizations participate as observers.
- World Committee on Tourism Ethics: is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly.
- Regional Commissions– UNWTO has six Regional Commissions: Africa, the Americas, South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. These Commissions meet at least once a year and are made up of all the Full and Associate Members of the region. Affiliate Members from each region participate in the meetings as observers.
- Executive Council: is the steering committee of the UNWTO and is responsible for ensuring that the Organization carries out its work program and stays within the budget. The Council meets at least twice a year and is made up of 30 members elected by the General Assembly at the rate of one for every five Full Members. As the country that hosts the UNWTO headquarters, Spain holds a permanent seat on the Executive Council. Representatives of Associate and Affiliate Members participate in Council meetings as observers.
- Committees: Specialized committees of UNWTO Members advise the Organization on the management and content of the program. These include: the Program and Budget Committee, the Tourism Statistics and Satellite Account Committee, the Tourism and Competitiveness Committee, the Tourism and Sustainability Committee, the World Committee on Tourism Ethics and the Membership Selection Committee Affiliates.
- Secretariat: It is headed by the Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili (Georgia), who oversees some 110 full-time staff at UNWTO headquarters in Madrid. These officers are responsible for carrying out the Organization’s work program and meeting the needs of its Members. UNWTO Affiliate Members are supported by an Executive Director fully dedicated to this role at the Madrid headquarters, a position financed by the Government of Spain. The Secretariat also has a regional support office for Asia and the Pacific in Nara, Japan, funded by the Japanese Government. The official languages of the UNWTO are Spanish, French, English and Russian. Arabic is a working language in the Secretariat.
- Systematically integrate tourism into the global agenda: Uphold 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 provide a level playing field on which the sector can thrive and develop.
- Improving Tourism Competitiveness: Improving the tourism competitiveness of UNWTO Members through the creation and sharing of knowledge, the development of human resources and the promotion of excellence in areas such as tourism planning, statistics and tourism trends. market, sustainable tourism development, marketing and promotion, product development, and risk and crisis management.
- Promote the sustainable development of tourism: Support sustainable tourism policies and practices: policies that make optimal use of environmental resources, that respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, and that provide economic benefits for all.
- Boosting the contribution of tourism to poverty reduction and development: Maximizing the contribution of tourism to poverty reduction and the achievement of the SDGs by turning tourism into a tool for development and promoting the inclusion of tourism in the agenda development.
- Promote knowledge, education and training: Help countries to assess and meet their education and training needs and provide them with networks that facilitate the creation and sharing of knowledge.
- Forge partnerships: Partner with the private sector, regional and local tourism organizations, educational and research institutions, civil society and the United Nations system to build a more sustainable, responsible and competitive tourism sector.