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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is a specialized intergovernmental agency of the UN system that unites 158 member countries. UNWTO acting under a Charter that entered into force on the 2nd of January 1975. The main objective of the UNWTO is to promote the development of tourism as the main factor in ensuring international peace and mutual understanding, world trade, strengthening cultural and economic relationships between countries.

Russia has been a member of the UNWTO since 1975 as the legal successor of the former USSR. Russian is one of the 6 official languages ​​of the organization.

UNWTO structure:

● General Assembly;

● Executive Council;

● Regional Commissions;

● Committees;

● Secretariat.

The General Assembly is the supreme Governing Body of UNWTO which convinces every two years. The General Assembly sessions are aimed at solving global problems of tourism sector. Zurab Pololikashvili has been the Secretary General of the UNWTO since 2018.

In 2019, Russia hosted a meeting of the UNWTO General Assembly for the first time in history (held in St. Petersburg from September 9 to 13, 2019). This meeting gathered about 1,500 delegates from UNWTO’s countries, heads of international organizations in the field of business and public administration in sphere of tourism.

The theme for the 23rd session was “Education, Skills and Jobs”.

Key events of the 23rd session:

  1. High Level Forum on Medical and Health Tourism.
  2. Ministerial Debate on Education and Employment in Tourism.
  3. High Level Summit on Innovation and Sustainable Development in Tourism.

One of the important events of the General Assembly was the signing of the Convention on Tourism Ethics.

The Executive Council is the governing body of UNWTO and consists of Full Members elected by the Assembly in a ratio of one for every 5 full members. The term of the Council members office is four years. Half of the members of the Council are re-elected every two years. Spain, as host country for the UNWTO Headquarters, has one permanent seat on the Executive Council.

Regional Commissions

UNWTO has six regional commissions that meet at least once a year and are composed of all Full and Associate Members from the region concerned.

● Africa (51 countries);

● Americas (25 countries);

● East Asia and Pacific (19 countries);

● South Asia (9 countries);

● Europe (42 countries, including the republics of the former USSR, of which 20 are members of the European Union);

● Middle East (13 countries).

UNWTO also has ad hoc committees set up by members of the World Tourism Organization. The aim of it — developing recommendations for the management and content of the organization's work program.

The interests of the Russian Federation are represented in the governing bodies of the World Tourism Organization (General Assembly, Executive Council, UNWTO Commission for Europe).

Joint projects and events through the UNWTO

1. Holding World Tourism Day (September 27) in Russia.

2018, Hungary, “Tourism and Digital Transformation”

2019, India, “Tourism and Jobs: A Better Future for All”

2020, MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela), the theme is to be determined soon

2021, one of the African countries.

Russia intends to be nominated for the World Tourism Day 2022.

2. UNWTO International Tourism Center in Russia.

Russia plans to open the UNWTO International Tourism Center in 2020. It’s main objective is to provide educational and advancing training services for tourism industry specialists: 

  • top managers (UNWTO.Executive Education); 
  • qualification assignment (UNWTO.TedQual);
  • an advanced training program quality DMO (UNWTO.QUEST).

The opening of a center in Russia can significantly affect the quality of training of specialists and bringing the local quality standards to international one.

3. Participation in the development of international treaties, recommendations and other UNWTO documents.

In 2019, Russia headed the working group on the translation of the Convention on Tourism Ethics into Russian.

Nowadays Russia also takes part in the preparation of recommendations and other UNWTO materials on minimizing the negative consequences of the spread of COVID-19 and recovering the tourism industry.