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19th General Assembly closes with pledge to strengthen UNWTO

19th General Assembly closes with pledge to strengthen UNWTO ( The over 1,000 representatives from UNWTO’s Members States and Affiliate Members attending the 19th session of the UNWTO General Assembly have unanimously adopted proposed reforms in the organization, allowing it to become more responsive, efficient, and relevant in the face of current and future challenges (Gyeongju, Republic of Korea,October 10-13, 2011).

“Over the last two years, UNWTO has embarked on a gradual but determined reform process,” said Mr. Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General, presenting the White Paper to the assembly.

The White Paper, “A Reform Process for a More Relevant UNWTO,” is a response to shifting international realities. “UNWTO is well aware of the changing context of the tourism sector and of the needs of its members,” said Mr. Rifai, “This is reflected in the White Paper, which proposes to reinforce the work of the organization in competitiveness and sustainability while adopting new areas of work such as domestic tourism, employment in tourism, and tourism governance,”

The White Paper is of particular relevance as the new UNWTO long-term forecast, “Tourism Towards 2030,” launched on the occasion of the General Assembly, shows that the sector has immense growth potential – international tourism is set to reach 1.8 billion tourists by 2030.

The General Assembly also welcomed Liberia as a new Full Member and 69 public and private sector representatives as new Affiliate Members, bringing UNWTO membership to 155 Members States and over 400 Affiliate Members.

The Executive Council elected Kenya as its new Chairman. “I am committed to work with all member countries to push forth the tourism agenda globally,” said Mr. Najib Balala, Minister of Tourism of Kenya.

Spain was elected to host World Tourism Day 2012 under the theme, “Tourism and Sustainable Energy – Powering Sustainable Development,” and the Maldives to host World Tourism Day 2013 to be celebrated under the topic, “Tourism and Water – Protecting our Common Future.”
Zambia and Zimbabwe won the bid to jointly host the 20th session of the UNWTO General Assembly in 2013.

MEDIA CONTACT: Principal Media Officer, Marcelo Risi, Tel: (+34) 91 567 81 60, Email: , Web: ; UNWTO Communications Program, Tel: +34 91-567-8100, Fax: +34 91-567-8218, Email:

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