Salvador Welcomes the World for First Annual Summit of the World Tourism Forum

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The Forum is an ongoing initiative, global in scope, developed in Brazil Â? where it will be hosted until 2006 Â? and designed to generate millions of job and income opportunities in developing nations through sustainable tourism.

The historic city of Salvador, in northeastern Brazil, is bustling with activity as preparations intensify for Destinations2004, the first Annual Summit of the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development, set for December 1 to 6. Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and World Tourism Organization secretary-general Francesco Frangialli, are among dozens of notables from around the world expected at the official opening ceremony, on the morning of December 1st at Salvador’s Castro Alves Theatre.

Over six days, the summit will bring together representatives from private business, society, NGOs, governments from around the world, researchers and students, in a series of events aimed at sharing information and assessing projects that seek to change destinies – of people, communities, regions and nations – through sustainable tourism. In all, at least 40 countries will be represented by delegations, individuals, and cases being presented.

A number of official tourism-related gatherings happening at the same time as the World Forum’s Annual Summit will turn Salvador into a sort of tourism capital of the world for six days. Chief among these meetings is the 74th Session of the WTO’s Executive Council on December 2 and 3, which will bring 28 tourism ministers and their delegations to the city. A three-day seminar on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism will also take place from December 2 to 4.

The Brazilian government’s National Tourism Council – an advisory body of the country’s Tourism Ministry – and Brazil’s National Forum of State Tourism Secretaries, which brings together heads of tourism secretariats from all Brazilian states, will also meet in Salvador while the World Forum Summit takes place. Away from the meeting rooms and seminar sessions, numerous parallel events include a cultural agenda with musical performances and art exhibits, a variety of workshops and activities, and a culinary festival involving 70 of the city’s top restaurants.

Annual Summits are one of three main pillars of the World Tourism Forum, a continuous movement identified by the global brand Destinations. The other two are a “Network of Networks”, encompassing five theme-specific networks to be hosted in different continents, and “Illustrative Projects” that put the concepts and ideas developed within the Forum to practical use. Projects can be identified or launched anywhere in the world.

At summits like Destinations2004, participants have the oportunity to assess the results generated by conceptual and concrete experiences around the world. Strategies and approaches are evaluated, polished, and disseminated once it becomes clear they can be useful in other countries and situations. Annual Summits will be held in Brazil until 2006, while the country hosts the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development.

The Forum’s cause: five priorities

The World Tourism Forum strives to attract institutions and individuals from around the world to support a cause: to develop tourism while promoting conditions for peace, economic and social development, cultural diversity, and preservation of our biodiversity. Among its many goals, the Forum seeks to act as a catalyst to generate new job and income opportunities – particularly in developing countries – and thus contribute, through sustainable tourism, to the social inclusion and poverty reduction goals established by the United Nations.

The Forum is a joint initiative of five organizing partners, including three U.N. bodies: WTO – the World Tourism Organization; Unesco – the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture; and UNDP – the United Nations Development Program. The Brazilian government is also a co-organizer, represented by its Tourism Ministry. The fifth organizing partner is the Tourism for Peace and Sustainable Development Foundation, a non-profit organization set up specifically to coordinate and manage the Forum.

The Forum’s executive partner is Instituto de Hospitalidade (the Hospitality Institute), a non-government, non-profit organization established in Salvador since 1997. The institute is active throughout Brazil with sustainable development projects focused on the improvement of the tourism industry.

As an industry, tourism has the potential to contribute decisively on several fronts – from economic and social well being to peaceful coexistence throughout the world. By developing and expanding tourism, the organizers hope a new global reality will take hold, marked by a diminishing rift between rich and poor, and greater awareness of the need to base future development worldwide on sustainable productive processes.

By mobilizing broad sectors of society, as well as individuals involved with tourism, the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development hopes to speed up the process, and accelerate the industry’s ability to turn its vast potential into concrete results.

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Adhemar Altieri
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