La Organización Mundial del Turismo celebra el vigésimo Día Mundial del Turismo el lunes, 27 de septiembre de 1999







El comienzo de un nuevo milenio es un momento muy adecuado para actuar en favor de la protección del patrimonio cultural, buena parte del cual ha sobrevivido a siglos y, a veces, a milenios de historia. A todos los que hoy disfrutamos de los tesoros culturales del mundo, nos incumbe garantizar su protección y su conservación para las generaciones futuras.

Esta idea fue la que guió en su día la elección del tema de la "Protección del patrimonio mundial" para el Día Mundial del Turismo de 1999. La UNESCO y la OMT aúnan ahora sus fuerzas para señalar a la atención de la opinión pública la importante y creciente relación que existe entre el turismo y el patrimonio cultural.

La sed de conocimiento y el deseo de disfrutar en persona de las maravillas de nuestro mundo seguirán, sin duda, impulsando el floreciente sector del turismo cultural. Bien gestionado y planificado, el turismo cultural cumple una función esencial en la protección del patrimonio mundial, ya que reporta los medios financieros necesarios para proteger los sitios y monumentos de nuestro patrimonio. Los ingresos de este tipo de turismo también ayudan a mantener la artesanía local y las tradiciones culturales. Sin esa inyección de fondos, muchos sitios del patrimonio y muchas actividades culturales se enfrentarían a un incierto futuro.

Una asociación efectiva entre las autoridades de los sectores privado y público y los interlocutores locales, regionales, nacionales e internacionales permitiría maximizar la aportación positiva del turismo y minimizar sus efectos potencialmente negativos en los entornos culturales. El sector privado tiene una importante función que desempeñar en este ámbito: los profesionales del turismo, los promotores de complejos turísticos y los inversores deberían participar efectivamente en la conservación y en la protección de los recursos patrimoniales.

A lo largo de los años, la UNESCO y la OMT han consolidado una estrecha asociación para fomentar la conservación del patrimonio cultural por medio del turismo sostenible. Ahora, las dos organizaciones colaboran activamente para promover dos grandes proyectos interregionales a largo plazo de itinerarios culturales y turísticos: la "Ruta de la Seda" y la "Ruta del Esclavo". Además, la OMT coopera también con la UNESCO en el proyecto "Memorias del Futuro", una asociación con cadenas hoteleras y tour operadores que se comprometen a realizar proyectos de protección y mejora del patrimonio cultural.

Hoy, en este último Día Mundial del Turismo del siglo y del milenio, invitamos a todos los Estados Miembros de nuestras respectivas organizaciones, así como a las instituciones públicas y privadas internacionales y nacionales que intervienen en todos los planos de la actividad cultural y turística, a cooperar para promover un turismo responsable que atienda los requisitos del desarrollo socioeconómico sin sacrificar nuestro entorno ni el patrimonio cultural de nuestro mundo.

Junio de 1999

Francesco Frangialli
Secretario General

Federico Mayor
Director General

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Celebrating World Tourism Day around the Globe

"Preserving World Heritage for the New Millennium" was the theme of World Tourism Day 1999, which for the first time coincided last year with the opening day of a WTO General Assembly.

Chile as the host nation played a leading role in the September 27 festivities with a highly colourful display of national dance, music and theatre performed by the Petite Cantanta of Chile's Poets, a troupe of local artists. The performance was constructed around readings of the works of the country's leading poets-- among them Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda--as it took visitors through different periods in the country's history.

But, while many of the ministers and leading tourism officials of the Organization's 115 member countries were watching the spectacle in Santiago, there were plenty of other celebrations going on elsewhere. The following countries and organizations have sent details to WTO of how they celebrated the event.

In the Dominican Republic, messages to impress on children the importance of tourism were read at schools throughout the country.They were told that more than 200,000 people in the republic owed their jobs to tourism - maintaining their families through money earned from their services.

As part of an effort described by Under-Secretary for Tourism Mirtha Olivares as "germinating a seed" with the young, children were then encouraged to give their thoughts on what tourism means for their country.

Special messages

Neighbouring Haiti, in the western part of Hispaniola island, celebrated World Tourism Day for the first time with a programme that included special messages from the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Tourism. As part of a campaign to spark interest in the sector, three new tourism offices were opened, there were exhibitions of culture and tourism plans for the country in three cities, and guided visits were arranged to some of the country's leading cultural sites.

Also in the Caribbean, Jamaica ran a National Tourism Awareness Week to coincide with the event. Activities included decorating harbours and airports and the presentation of Hello Tourist awards to primary school children who achieved high performances in tourism-related subjects.

Peruvian university Ricardo Palma in Lima celebrated with the signing of various cooperation programmes to boost tourism and the launch of its own specialist magazine, Caminos.

In Asia, the leading resort of Goa on India's west coast was decked with thousands of stickers and banners to make sure that residents knew what day was being celebrated! Special events included a cleanliness drive on beaches and historical sites in which schoolchildren participated; welcoming receptions for visitors arriving on the first plane and train of the day; and a free river cruise for handicapped children. There was also a firework display, a culinary exhibition and an inter-school poster competition with the theme of 'Save the Earth'.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) organized a number of motor caravans and rallies under the banner 'Parents and Kids Tour Thailand'. The minister to the Prime Minister's Office and TAT chairperson Pavena Hongsakula further emphasized the importance of tourism in an address which followed the main prime time news on national television.

Presidential inauguration

Festivities in Iran centred on a 10 day long World Tourism celebration and Iran Tourism Festival which was inaugurated by President Khatami. Iran's potential as a tourism destination was highlighted in a closing day message delivered by the UNDP Resident Co-ordinator Francesco Bastagli, who said: "The festival proved that Iran is a 'natural country' for tourism with a fascinating and unique cultural and historical heritage".

In Muscat, Oman, Under-Secretary for Tourism Moshin bin Khamis Al Balushi presented certificates to the first group of Omani tour guides to be trained by destination management company Bahwan Tours.Their education programme already included two UNESCO world heritage sites, Bahla Fort and the Bat Tombs. The upcoming opening of the Al Felaij Theatre at Barka would enhance the sultanate's cultural tourism and add to its attractiveness as a destination, he said.

The first female tour guide in the country, Maryam Al Naamani, was chosen to read the joint World Tourism Day message issued by WTO Secretary-General Francisco Frangialli and UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor.

On the other side of the Red Sea, the Eritrea tourism ministry organized a week-long photography exhibition in Asmara on the country's historical heritage which attracted more than 22,000 visitors.

Topics ranged from a dammed lake, believed to be the bathing spot of the Queen of Sheba, to 1,500 year-old mummies and a complete Italian art-deco complex built in the 1930s.

There was a one day seminar in Keren on the benefits of preserving national heritage, while both cities displayed banners to mark World Tourism Day.

Preserving national heritage

Tanzania was among those countries which delayed World Tourism Day, waiting until October for the return of its official delegation to the WTO General Assembly. The tourism ministry's efforts centred on getting the widest possible media coverage to emphasize the importance of tourism.

Further south in Africa, the Lesotho Tourist Board organized a photographic competition based on the country's cultural heritage. For children, there were drawing competitions for the under 12s and essay writing for the older ones.

On the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, build-up events started two weeks earlier with a careers fair for young children and a series of cultural visits for children.

The weekend before World Tourism Day ticket prices to major sites and attractions were reduced for both tourists and residents. Tourists arriving or departing from the international airport on September 26 and 27 received commemorative souvenirs handed out by students at the island's hotel school.

Moscow's city government celebrated World Tourism Day for the first time by organizing the "Guiding Star' Awards to recognize achievement in the field of tourism.

In the Ukraine, the state committee for tourism arranged a number of festive events in halls, parks and stadiums. The media carried a series of publications and programmes on the future of tourism said the committee's vice-chairman Mr.G.Naumenko.

Stamps Issued

Other events on the day included the issue of commemorative World Tourism Day stamps, award ceremonies for workers in the tourism sector, and free entry to leading tourist attractions.

Events in the Basque Country region in northern Spain revolved around a tourism fair held in the regional capital of Vitoria on the weekend prior to World Tourism Day.

There were also guided tours, sports and handicrafts demonstrations leading up to a press conference on September 27 when the regional government announced its latest tourism figures.

On the Mediterranean coast of Spain, WTO official Leila Rihawi represented the Secretary-General at the annual celebrations organized by the Barcelona Skal Club.

Other efforts around the globe ranged from a three day awareness campaign in Colombia--coupled with a heartfelt plea for 'Colombia in Peace'--to a poster campaign in Bulgaria.

Vatican City offered free entrance to its museums while actively pursuing tourism-related media coverage.

In the Brazilian city of Recife a special forum was staged at which a new tourism award scheme for university students was launched.

Private and public sector in Serbia issued a joint message of their own, claiming that NATO air-raids had damaged many tourism facilities. But the country welcomed any WTO or UNESCO moves to help contribute to peace efforts.

For the future, the World Airlines Clubs Association (WACA) says it is hoping to make World Tourism day an annual feature among its 120 members.

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