The leader of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has called on the hospitality industry to use tourism to help in the fight against international poverty.
In his New Year message, secretary-general Francesco Frangialli said the WTO would intensify its efforts for sustainable tourism to be part of the international development agenda and urged the tourism sector to do the same.
Frangialli called on industrialised and developing countries, international development agencies and tourism bodies to help towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme poverty and ensuring environmental stability by 2015.
This, he said, could be achieved by encouraging responsible tourism to the world's poorest countries, by making tourism a key priority for their infrastructure and by providing entrepreneurial support.
"The tourism sector is the largest common area of export income and foreign direct investment across the world's poorest countries," Frangialli said. "No sector spreads wealth and jobs across poor economies in the same way as tourism. It just needs imagination and political will."
WTO initiatives for 2007 include summits on tourism and religion, tourism and climate change, and the role of women in the sector.