UNWTO opens Geneva liaison office

10 January 2017
ITC News
New office to be located at ITC headquarters

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) opened its liaison office in Geneva today (10 January). The new office will be based in the headquarters of the International Trade Centre (ITC) and will initially employ three people.

Opening the Geneva office, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, said: ‘The Liaison Office in Geneva aims at strengthening UNWTO’s role and capacity for efficient support to its member states, particularly through tourism’s relationship with trade.’

Tourism, as trade in services, was the third highest-earning export category in 2015 after fuels and chemicals. The cross-cutting nature of the tourism sector and its broad value chain – touching on many productive sub-sectors in goods and services – offers a unique opportunity for countries to enter global trade markets.

ITC Executive Director Arancha González said it was an honour to host the UNWTO in Geneva. ‘Tourism is an important driver of trade and development across the world. It accounts for one in 11 jobs across the world and women make up more than 60% of this work force. With the opening of the UNWTO liaison office in Geneva, ITC and UNWTO will continue to strengthen their partnership to provide deeper support to the tourism sector and ensure that it provides sustainable development and jobs in developing countries.’

International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

The UNWTO opens its Geneva office at the beginning of the UN-designated International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which will be officially launched on 18 January. The aim of a formal International Year designation is to promote pro-sustainability changes in tourism policies, business practices and consumer behaviour to maximize the sector’s contribution to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tourism accounts for 7% of world exports, close to 10% of jobs worldwide and 10% of global gross domestic product.

Headquartered in Madrid, Spain, UNWTO is a specialized agency of the UN tasked with supporting member states to develop their tourism strategies. It brings together a total of 157 countries, six associate members and more than 480 affiliates from the private sector, academic institutions, tourism associations and local authorities.

Learn more about ITC’s work on tourism.