The purpose of the WTO Tourism Policy Forum (TPF) is to convene educators, knowledge management experts and other informed professionals, together with representative government policy-makers and business leaders to focus on a critical policy issue facing global tourism and to offer recommendations for future directions.

The WTO Education Council is taking the lead in organizing the Forum in collaboration with the WTO Business Council, under the overall guidance of the WTO Secretariat. The TPF utilizes a policy dialogue approach pioneered by George Washington University in 1990. The 2004 Forum is hosted by the George Washington University Center for the Study of Globalization and International Institute of Tourism Studies.

A product of each WTO Tourism Policy Forum will be a report on the issues discussed and the results, including analytical findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Focus of the 2004 WTO Tourism Policy Forum:

Tourism is an increasingly important development strategy to positively address poverty reduction, economic growth, biodiversity conservation generally, as well as the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) specifically. 

As the leading international organization in the field of travel and tourism, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) has recently become the United Nations Specialized Agency for Tourism.  In this capacity, it is vested with a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, with the aim of contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms. In 2004, WTO's membership includes 144 countries, seven territories and some 350 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities

In pursuing its goals in relation to development, the Organization advocates "Liberalization with a Human Face" linking it's strategies on fair trade, sustainable development and poverty elimination and in this context launched ST-EP (Sustainable Tourism -Eliminating Poverty) with UNCTAD, the UN Agency focusing on the world's poorest countries, at the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development in August 2002. ST-EP's goal is to encourage sustainable tourism - social, economic and ecological - which specifically alleviates poverty, bringing development and jobs to people living on less than a dollar a day.

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