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Geotourism to the Benefit of the Local Communities will be the Focus of the XXI Inter-American Congress of Tourism, to Open Tomorrow in Honduras

  September 4, 2013

The XXI Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism, under the leadership of the Organization of American States (OEA), will be held in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on September 5th and 6th, 2013, and will focus on the topic "Geotourism to the Benefit of Local Communities."

The Congress will be inaugurated by the President of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, and the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, and will be attended by Ministers and senior officials responsible for tourism from 22 Member Countries of the Organization, as well as representatives from regional and international agencies, the private sector, academia and civil society.

The XXI Congress 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.

The event 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 Congress 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.

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 hemispheric meetings to address relevant technical issues and to develop inter-American cooperation in tourism

At the XIX Inter-American Congress of Tourism, held in San Salvador, El Salvador, in September 2011, the theme was "Tourism, a challenge to poverty." In the Declaration of San Salvador, the participants mandated that the necessary steps be taken to create a financing 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 that lack development resources.

Meanwhile, the main theme of the XX Inter-American Congress of Tourism, held in Quito, Ecuador, in September 2012, was "Conscientious Tourism". It addressed 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.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-322/13