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The Republic of South Africa declared its candidature to the World Tourism Organisation to become a member of this organisation's Executive Council on 30 September 2005.

This bid for membership follows on a number of African seats on the Executive Council that will become vacant at the end of 2005. These will be filled through an election process due to take place during the 6th General Assembly of the World Tourism Organisation in Dakar, Senegal.

Africa as a region within the Executive Council is represented by nine elected full time member states.

The Republic of South Africa served as a member of the Executive Council from 1996 to 1999. Its membership of this auspicious body was not renewed to afford other African countries an opportunity to participate in and contribute to work of the Executive Council. South Africa is of the view that Africa's constructive participation in the Executive Council of the WTO is a critical factor in representing and promoting the interests of the developing world.

The development of tourism and its supporting industry is considered by South Africa as an important historic opportunity to end the scourge of underdevelopment that afflicts Africa. The resources, including capital, technology and human skills, that are required to develop the Continent, exist in abundance waiting to be utilised &endash; that being tourism.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) remains a pledge by African Leaders, based on a common vision and a firm and shared conviction, that we have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place our countries on a path of sustainable growth and development while participating actively in the world economy.

South Africa is convinced that through tourism, the poverty and underdevelopment of our Continent that stands in stark contrast to the prosperity of the developed world, can be addressed.

The continued marginalisation of Africa from the global process and the social exclusion of the vast majority of its peoples constitute a serious threat to global stability. This can be reversed through NEPAD and African empowerment. As Africans we do not appeal for the further entrenchment of dependency through aid, or for marginal concessions.

South Africa recognises, along with a global acceptance, that tourism is one of the sectors with the greatest potential to contribute to the economic regeneration of developing countries, particularly through the diversification of African economies and the generation of foreign exchange earnings.

South Africa is aware of, and subscribes to, the projected goals of the WTO initiatives such as, the Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty project (ST-EP) as a way to link Sustainable Tourism with the Elimination of Poverty - launched by the World Tourism Organisation with UNCTAD at the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development in August 2002. South Africa is encouraged by the fact that ST-EP aims at bringing development and jobs to people living on less than a dollar a day, in the world's poorest countries that includes fellow African countries. South Africa will therefore endeavour to maximise the involvement and engagement of the WTO through, mechanisms such as ST-EP, in promoting and developing tourism industries in the developing countries.

The United Nations Millennium Declaration of September 2000, reaffirmed at the United Nations General Assembly 60th Summit in September 2005, confirms the global community's readiness to support Africa's efforts to address the Continent's underdevelopment and marginalisation. More importantly, South Africa is convinced that the tourism sector presents a huge potential to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The WTO´s initiatives such as ST-EP, as a mechanism to enable the developing world to achieve the UN millennium Development Goals, are supported by South Africa and will be vigorously pursued by our country. South Africa is convinced that more could be done to promote tourism through the institution of the World Tourism Organisation to empower our Continent and its people.

The World Tourism Organisation shows that out of 760 million tourist trips that took place across international boundaries in 2004, generating over US $ 523 billion international receipts, Africa only received 33 million international arrivals and US $ 14 billion international receipts. Considering that projections to the year 2020 envisage a rise in tourism arrivals and earnings to 1,6 billion and US $2 trillion, respectively, South Africa is convinced that Africa must receive a proportionally more equitable share of these results.

The Republic of South Africa, should she be successful to be voted in as member of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organisation, wishes to declare the following commitments as a serving member-state:

The Republic of South Africa wishes to call upon the WTO General Assembly, to define and use its empowered responsibility to build a single and coherent body that supports the work of the Secretariat of the World Tourism Organisation.

It is believed through a united Assembly of Member-States, the Organisation, its Member-States and its people will be best served.

Regional Commissions: The World Tourism Organisation has to date not clearly defined the role of the Commissions. Their capacity to deal with common regional developmental and product positioning has not been enhanced. South Africa will endeavour to assist the WTO to refine the role of the said Commissions that will be regionally and organisationally beneficial, inter alia towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Expertise development: The World Tourism Organisation has to date facilitated consultative expertise for the development of international tourism infrastructures in developing countries. A dire need for the development of local expertise in Africa and other developing regions is noted. South Africa wishes to encourage the World Tourism Organisation and its member-states to assist, through its respected knowledge base, in the development of local expertise, human resources and skills that will empower developing countries to achieve their maximum tourism potential.

Management of Resources: As far as the financial management of the WTO is concerned, South Africa is of the opinion, as is the case with many other member states, that the financial management structure requires ongoing attention. South Africa wishes to play a constructive role in facilitating this process.

Secretariat of the World Tourism Organisation: South Africa is of the view that the communication between Member States and the Secretariat of the WTO should be enhanced. South Africa wishes to contribute to this bridge building processes between the Secretariat and the WTO Member-States, to ensure mutual understanding and beneficiation that will enhance and develop world tourism &endash; with a particular emphasis on African development.

In conclusion, the Republic of South Africa, hopes to contribute meaningfully towards assisting in defining the business model of the WTO in line with its mandate, taking into account the nature of the business of tourism as a fun, experiential, time-sensitive business.

This will allow for strategic engagement with other UN bodies and key multilateral organizations &endash; influencing their agendas and seeking indirect resourcing for maximum long-term positive impact on tourism and support for its Programme of Work.

As a member of the Executive Council, South Africa commits itself to enhancing an efficient organisation, a constructive approach and focussed programmes by the World Tourism Organisation for the benefit of the African continent.


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