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Tourism: a challenge for addressing poverty.

The fight against poverty and inequality-especially the eradication of extreme poverty--is a shared responsibility of OAS member states and is vital to the promotion and consolidation of democracy. This was the perspective of the Ministers of Tourism of the Americas when they met in San Salvador, El Salvador, for the XIX Inter-American Travel Congress, September 29-30, 2011. It was the first such gathering in eight years and it breathed new life into the high-level hemispheric dialogue in the area of tourism. Under the theme; "Tourism: A Challenge for Addressing Poverty," Ministers and authorities in tourism focused on innovative ideas and mechanisms for reducing poverty which remains a major challenge in the hemisphere. Tourism is recognized as having considerable potential for contributing to economic development.

The Congress highlighted the potential for tourism as an important tool in addressing poverty, the importance of pro-poor tourism projects, and the need to ensure communities are included in the design of community tourism proposals in order to ensure success. During the Congress, presentations were made on public-private partnerships; cultural and heritage tourism; micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises and corporate social responsibility; and the challenges of sustainable tourism in the Americas.

The Congress culminated with the approval of the Declaration of San Salvador to Sustainable Tourism Development in the Americas which "recognized the significant contribution of the tourism sector to national poverty and social inequality-reduction efforts and to the enhancement of the quality of life of host communities; to sustainable economic development of our countries, particularly in job creation, relaxation, recreation, business opportunities, and the development of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, particularly for vulnerable populations, such as women, children, racial and ethnic minorities, and indigenous peoples; as well as its multiplier effect and excellent potential for long-term growth together with its important cultural and social benefits."

A significant actionable outcome of this Congress was the proposal to create a Hemispheric Tourism Fund to support communities living in extreme poverty. While the details of the fund are still being finalized, its primary objective is to support communities in the countries of the hemisphere that have tourism potential bur cannot fully achieve development because of extreme poverty. OAS member states also agreed to promote sustainable tourism in the Americas and to recommend to Heads of State and Government that they endorse the Declaration of San Salvador to Sustainable Tourism Development in the Americas and incorporate it into the Declaration and Plan of Action of the Sixth Summit of the Americas.

The OAS continues to support tourism development in the Americas with the Congress as the principal platform for hemispheric dialogue. The XX Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism will be hosted by the Government of Ecuador in 2012.

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Title Annotation:OAS: Ministerial Meetings
Author:Molina-Vrolijk, Jennifer
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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