UNWTO to contribute five lakh dollars for sustainable tourism

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New Delhi, Jun 17 (UNI) Joining efforts to raise awareness on the relation between tourism and poverty alleviation, the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has decided to contribute five lakh US dollars from its budget towards STEP (Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty) programme.

The programme is aimed at promoting poverty elimination through sustainable tourism development programmes and projects.

In its 83rd session, UNWTO's Executive Council noted that tourist arrivals grew by six per cent during 2007 to reach a record number of nearly 900 million international tourist arrivals.

The meeting held recently in Jeju Island, South Korea, was chaired by Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni in her capacity as the Chairperson of the UNWTO's Executive Council.

It was attended by member countries, including Spain, Russia, Germany, France, Brazil and Iran, heads of the regional commissions, representatives of affiliate members, chairman of the Committee on Budget and Finance and others.

In a survey undertaken by UNWTO to determine the priority areas for drawing the Programme of Work for 2010-2011, 57 per cent of the member states marked education and human resource development as the top most priority area.

Ms Soni pointed out the need to address severe manpower shortage in the hospitality sector and urged UNWTO to take a lead in organising adequate training programmes for capacity building in member states.

The recognition of the importance of tourism sector the world over has led to more countries becoming members of the UNWTO. At present 153 countries are the members of the organisation and the membership is set to increase further with the admission of two more countries -- New Zealand and Norway -- in its fold.

UNI SKS ARB ND1744

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