Why is the World Trade Organization Important for Tourism?

The "other" WTO, standing for the World Tourism Organization, describes itself this way:

The World Tourism Organization (WTO-OMT) advocates progressive liberalization of tourism, with a focus on sustainability and on the special needs of developing states.

WTO-OMT enjoys observer status in the World Trade Organization on issues regarding trade in tourism services, in particularly in connection with the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

It offers this answer to the question in the title:


An increasing number of countries - developed and developing - have begun to recognise the potential of tourism - as an agent to deliver on the New Global Framework, defined in recent Summits of Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg. A framework encapsulated by the UN's Millennium Development Goals where Poverty Alleviation, Sustainable Development and Developing Nations are the top priorities.

The World Trade Organization (WTO-OMC) is a key component of that Framework. And it's increasingly forcing its way onto our daily radar screens. Whether it's because of protests, agricultural subsidies or steel tariffs, the Geneva based body is clearly destined to play an ever greater role in everyone's business activity.

Tourism falls within the scope of WTO - OMC activities - but because it isn't one of the hot political issues its work to date has been more routine and less high profile. It comes into play through the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) - which was the end product of the Uruguay Trade Round in 1995.

(Source: http://www.world-tourism.org/liberalization/menu_trade.htm )

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