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OAS Assistant Secretary General Calls on Member States to Join Forces in Promoting Regional Tourism

  June 23, 2011

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert R. Ramdin, today called on Member States to join forces to promote regional tourism, since it has “become one of the most important sectors in the world economy and for many OAS Member States it is the main source of employment and exports, helping to drive economic growth.”

Speaking at the inauguration of the Preparatory Meeting for the Nineteenth Inter-American Travel Congress, which is scheduled to be held September 29 and 30 in El Salvador, Assistant Secretary General Ramdin said the event “is particularly meaningful because it takes place at a critical time for our economies.” The event’s theme will be “Tourism: A Challenge in the Face of Poverty.”

The Inter-American Travel Congress, created in 1939 with the objective of promoting the development of tourism in the Americas, is one of the oldest institutions in the inter-American system. The last Travel Congress was held in Guatemala in 2003.

“Tourism is one of the economic activities that allowed the region to recover from the recent global financial crisis,” the OAS diplomat pointed out. “In my view, the need for a regional dialogue is more relevant than ever as the region faces not only the global economic crisis and volatile oil prices, but also climatic disturbances, and security challenges, as well as the need to build and strengthen existing strategic alliances within countries with the business community and between sub-regions so as to optimize the existing opportunities.”

Ambassador Ramdin recalled the OAS’s considerable experience in supporting its Member States, particularly in relation to small and medium tourism enterprises and in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility among tourism operators. “We must consolidate and expand on the successes of our flagship Small Tourism Enterprise Program or STEP, and replicate where possible the transfer of successful programs to and from different sub-regions,” he concluded.

Furthermore, the OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development (SEDI), Mauricio Cortes Costa, offered an assessment of the Hemisphere’s current favorable economic situation and recalled the importance of tourism in promoting social development and economic growth. “Despite the global financial crisis, which reduced tourism activity inside our countries, there is a hopeful panorama today in our Hemisphere,” he said.

Presiding the meeting was the Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the OAS, Ambassador Joaquín Alexander Maza, who reiterated his country’s commitment to improve its tourism sector and collaborate with other countries to make regional improvements. “In offering to host the next Travel Congress, El Salvador wishes to revitalize a process of dialogue and cooperation in the tourism sector that goes beyond a single meeting of ministers and authorities,” he said. “That is why it is appropriate to use this opportunity to create initiatives that would give an active continuity to this mechanism and lead to commitments on the common goals of tourism in the Americas.”

The Preparatory Meeting for the Nineteenth Inter-American Travel Congress will take place today and tomorrow, June 23 and 24, in the headquarters of the OAS in Washington, DC. It brings together Member State and Permanent Observer representatives, alongside other organizations and agencies of the inter-American system, to debate the topic of tourism as an engine of economic growth in the region and prepare a draft document of hemispheric commitments to be approved at the Congress meeting in El Salvador.

A gallery of photos of the event will be available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-739/11