Over the past two years the world’s tourism industry, as well as
that of Europe, has been spared no difficulty. ... (But) these two
years of variegated crisis have served as a real wake-up call.
In Southeast Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, and in the
Caribbean, many governments and regional organizations established
tourism as one of their priorities.
For the first time since 1995, the U.S. Congress established a
budget to promote the United States. New countries are including
tourism among the priorities for their development, and for this
reason are joining the World Tourism Organization.
The most spectacular response has undoubtedly been the
mobilization of the United Nations’ system in favor of this sector.
On Oct. 20 at the General Assembly of the WTO in Beijing, and then
on Nov. 7 at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, the WTO’s
conversion into a specialized agency of the United Nations was
Tourism will from now on be considered by international society
on an equal footing with other major activities of humanity:
industry, agriculture, education and culture, health, labor.
Nevertheless, work remains to be done with the European Union
itself. ... Preserving the quality of tourism sites and the
personality of host communities constitutes the foundation on which
the success of a destination is built, and is the basis on which
its image is strengthened in relation to competing
The European Union does a great deal for tourism in the form of
the different community policies that have to do with this industry
and which affect it for better or worse. But it does so without
order, without the benefit of the requisite overall strategy that
can only be established on the basis of a solid legal
It is in light of a higher interest, beyond its own, that (the
WTO) hopes Europe will take into its own hands the future of this
industry of the 21st century that is tourism. The tourism industry
is in the midst of a great turning point, and it would be perilous
indeed for Europe to let go of the steering wheel in the middle of
Excerpts of an address by Francesco Frangialli,
secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization, at the
European Tourism Forum in Venice, Italy, Nov. 29.