After the transformation of the World Tourism Organization into a specialized agency of the United Nations, the tourism organization now refers to itself as UNWTO. It’s newly-elected secretary general – till the end of 2009 – Francesco Frangialli, said because the acronym WTO was being shared by both his organization and the world trade organization, and caused problems for some, the name change was necessary.
He said that although the World Trade Organization also belongs to the United Nations system but that it is only a ‘related agency’, the same status held by the World Tourism Organization before becoming a specialized agency.
The official go-ahead was given in January when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave his consent to adding the United Nations’ initials, and the modification was approved by the Executive Council in June.
Mr. Frangialli was re-elected recently by 85 votes to 14. His re-election came after he received overwhelming support from the WTO executive council when it met in Nessebar, Bulgaria, this past summer. As has happened in the past, the general assembly decided to follow the recommendation of the executive council.
Mr. Frangialli joined WTO as Deputy Secretary-General in 1990 and succeeded Antonio Enriquez Savignac ad interim from September 1996 before being elected Secretary-General in 1997. He was re-elected in 2001 for the years 2002-2005. Before moving to Madrid he was Director of the Tourism Industry in France, the most senior officer in the national tourism administration.
Mr Frangialli says he is motivated by three goals in what will be his new term. First, he wants to consolidate what he has achieved. While the current financial situation of WTO is excellent, careful management is needed to diversify the Organization’s resources and make it less dependent on contributions from member states. Remarkable progress has been made in increasing the core membership to 150 nations. But there are still gaps, he says, notably the United States and some northern European countries.
He then said he wants to build on the foundation of the major advances made. He mentioned the need to maintain and strengthen the level of credibility attained with the launch of the Tourism Satellite Account; the continuation of the fight against the negative environmental, social and cultural effects of tourism highlighted in the Global Code of Ethics, and the exploitation of all the synergies now available to WTO since becoming a full member of the United Nations system.
In the meantime, his principal aim is to further extend tourism’s contribution to alleviate poverty through sustainable development, which promises a radical advance in assistance for developing countries.