Ambika Soni to attend UNWTO's Session in Colombia

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New Delhi, Nov 23 (UNI) Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni is leaving tomorrow for Cartegana de Indias in Colombia on a three-day visit to attend the 17th Session of General Assembly of UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

During the General Assembly of UNWTO, Ms Soni is slated to attend the ministerial meeting and make a statement in the plenary session. She will also have bilateral meetings with her counterparts of Colombia, China, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and South Asian Countries.

Before returning to New Delhi, she will have a halt at Miami to interact with tour operators there to promote India as a tourist destination.

The WTO, a specialised agency of the UN, is the leading international organisation in the field of tourism, and serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and practical source of tourism knowhow.

In 2006, the UNWTO's membership comprised 150 countries, seven territories and more than 300 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

With requests received from three more countries (Montenegro, Tajikistan and Brunei Darussalam), the total membership of UNWTO will increase to 153 countries at the end of the 17th Session of General Assembly.

The Executive Council is WTO's governing board and is responsible for ensuring that the organisation carries out its work and adheres to its budget. It meets twice a year and is composed of 30 members elected by the General Assembly in a ratio of one for every five full Members.

As host country of WTO's headquarters, Spain has a permanent seat on the Executive Council. At present Tunisia is the Chairman of the Executive Council and Argentina and Hungary are the Vice-Chairmen.

India, which is also a member of the Executive Council, was elected to the Council in the last session of the General Assembly, which was held in Dakar, Senegal in 2005.

India has presented its candidature for the post of the Chairmanship of the Executive Council which, according to the principle of the geographical rotation between the regions, should be given to a member country from South Asia at the forthcoming session of the General Assembly.

UNI

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