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OAS Inter-American Travel Congress to Be Held September 29 and 30 with the Theme of “Tourism: A Challenge for Addressing Poverty”

  September 23, 2011

The Organization of American States (OAS) will organize along with the Government of El Salvador on September 29 and 30, 2011, in San Salvador, the 19th Inter-American Travel Congress, considered the main hemispheric platform for promoting tourism in the Americas and facilitating exchanges of experiences and best practices in this area. The principal theme of the event is “Tourism: A Challenge for Addressing Poverty.”

The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, referred to the importance of tourism development for many countries of the continent when in February of this year the government of El Salvador signed the agreement for holding said event. “We are very satisfied that Latin America and the Caribbean have overcome the global crisis in the way in which they have,” the head of the hemispheric organization asserted. “Nevertheless, the figures in different sectors tell a more complex story,” he continued. “The industry of tourism has been affected not only by the crisis, but by other issues, such as changes in the structure itself of tourism, natural disasters and health issues,” he added.

Furthermore, the Secretary General referred to the need for the countries of the Caribbean to “strengthen, diversify and expand their structure and tourist activity,” which has an impact, in his words, “on the generation of income and jobs.”

The event will be inaugurated by the Salvadoran President, Mauricio Funes, the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, and the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai. The closing session will feature the words of the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, and the Minister of Tourism of El Salvador, José Napoleón Duarte. The meeting will last two days, during which eight plenary sessions will be held featuring the dialogue of ministers and high-level authorities.

Among the guests invited to participate in the Congress are Ministers and high-level authorities of Tourism from Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago; as well as leaders of civil society organizations and universities.

According to the UNWTO, income from international tourism in 2010 reached 919 billion dollars after a drop registered in 2009, and in the first half of 2011 the Americas saw a growth of six percent, “slightly higher” than the world average. In particular, South America had a noteworthy growth of 15 percent.

The focus of the dialogue will be the consideration of tourism as a mechanism for reducing poverty, and the major role the sector plays in generating economic activity, as well as ways to better promote community inclusion and participation in the activities of sustainable tourism and its development. More specifically, the central issues for discussion will be public-private partnerships to promote investment and tourism development; cultural and heritage tourism as a core integrating factor in communities; micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) as keys to sustainable tourism development; challenges for sustainable tourism in the Americas; tourism as a ministerial process and the Sixth Summit of the Americas; and the approval of key issues in financing for tourism projects through the Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI).

By gathering the highest hemispheric authorities of tourism, the Congress also will be an opportunity for participating governments to sign official mutual cooperation agreements in the area of tourism and will set the foundations for future comparative studies and technical projects focused on the development of a responsible tourism, as well as coordinated activities among intergovernmental and private organizations in the field of tourism development.

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.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-852/11