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OAS Secretary General in San Salvador Calls for Promoting Regional Sustainable Tourism

  September 29, 2011

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, issued a call today to government authorities, international organizations and tourism associations gathered in San Salvador for the 19th Inter-American Travel Congress to “promote regional sustainable tourism, inclusive and responsible, that can be an effective tool in development and the fight against poverty.”

Upon inaugurating the event alongside the Salvadoran President, Mauricio Funes, Secretary General Insulza asserted that “the importance of tourism for the sustainable socioeconomic growth of our countries is of the greatest importance for the development of the region,” and that “tourism should be considered more and more as an important source of socioeconomic growth, particularly in developing countries.”

In this sense, he recalled that “tourism is the principal driving force of economic activity for many countries of the Americas, in particular those in the Caribbean,” and noted that the contribution of tourism to the GDP of some countries in our region is fundamental: in Antigua and Barbuda, for example, tourism contributes nearly 75 percent of the country’s GDP.

Furthermore, he recalled the valuable role of micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which offer the greatest number of tourism services in the countries of the region. “They are the most important engine of growth, because they generate employment and contribute to a more equal distribution of wealth,” he said.

Despite the impact of the financial crisis on tourism at the global level, “our hemisphere today presents a hopeful outlook,” continued the head of the hemispheric organization. In this sense, he cited figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that show that more than 150 million tourists visit the Americas annually and that the countries of the region had a growth of five percent in the number of tourists during the first months of this year.

“These numbers barely contribute to an understanding of why tourism is the principal motor of economic activity in many countries of the region, in particular in the countries of Central America and the Caribbean,” he said. “Similarly, they reflect the impact that tourism activity at the regional level can have for the region’s development,” he added.

Secretary General Insulza said the 19th Inter-American Travel Congress, titled, “A Challenge for Addressing Poverty,” “constitutes a valuable opportunity for promoting concrete policies and adopting measures in support of the tourism sector.” “I trust that with the support of the Member States, of donating countries and agencies, of international and regional organizations, we can channel sufficient resources to make of the Americas an exemplary region for sustainable and responsible tourism,” he concluded.

The event, which brings together high-level tourism authorities from around the region, is organized by the OAS and the Government of El Salvador and will be held today and tomorrow in the Salvadoran capital.

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, and is considered the principal hemispheric platform for promoting this industry in the Americas and facilitating the exchange of experiences and best practices in this area.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-860/11