About the Congress

The XXI Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism, to be held in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on 5 and 6 September 2013 will focus on the topic "Geotourism to the Benefit of Local Communities." Other important issues to be addressed in this Congress are Public and Community Safety within the framework of Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Destinations Management.
The Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism was established in 1939 and is the principal hemispheric forum for dialogue and policy development in this sector. It predates the creation of the Organization of American States, which occurred in 1948, and the entry into force of the Charter of the OAS, in December 1951. The Congress was designed to promote sustainable development of tourism in the Americas, through the organization of a series of meetings to address relevant technical hemispheric issues and to develop inter-American cooperation in tourism.

The Congress serves as an important platform for the exchange of experiences and best practices, and provides a mechanism to support technical studies, strengthen communication between government agencies and the private sector, consider technical cooperation proposals, and support member states in their efforts to develop the tourism sector. The Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism promotes the adoption of formal agreements among governments in relation to the tourism industry, encourages comparative studies and technical projects focusing on responsible tourism development, and coordinates activities of intergovernmental and private organizations in the area of tourism development.

At the XIX Inter-American Congress of Tourism, held in San Salvador, El Salvador, on 29 and 30 September 2011, the theme was "Tourism, a challenge to poverty." In the Declaration of San Salvador, the tourism authorities mandated that the necessary steps be taken to create a financing and cooperation mechanism among the national Ministries and Authorities of Tourism, through a hemispheric tourism fund composed of voluntary contributions, in order to support communities that live in extreme poverty and have tourism potential in their environment but cannot fully achieve development.

The theme of the XX Inter-American Congress of Tourism, held in Quito, Ecuador, on 12 and 13 September 2012, was "Conscientious Tourism". It addressed important issues such as sustainable tourism (sustainable tourism criteria and sustainability certifications) and corporate social responsibility in the tourism sector, and commenced efforts to mainstream the concept of Conscientious Tourism into tourism development in the Americas.

The XXI Congress to be held in Honduras, represents an opportunity to build on the outcomes of the XIX and XX Congresses which addressed the issues of tourism and poverty reduction, and conscientious tourism, respectively, by focusing on the benefits of Geotourism for local communities. It will also provide an opportunity for member states to coordinate actions of cooperation and collaboration on Geotourism and recommend actions to improve and strengthen the Hemispheric Tourism Fund and the Inter-American Committee on Tourism.