MADRID: The World Tourism Organization (WTO) and "Routes", World Route Development Forum signed an agreement on cooperation on Monday, by which they will work together to explore new air routes for tourism generally and particularly consider ways and means to initiate an African Routes meeting in the coming twelve months. The Memorandum of Understanding highlighted the role of WTO in developing the initiative Liberalization with a Human Face to link fair trade,

sustainability and poverty strategies for the least-developed countries and particularly for Africa. WTO is seeking to increase aviation services to promote tourism trade generally and specifically to develop new routes to the world's poorest countries as a vital tool for export and investment.

The document was signed by the WTO Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Dawid de Villiers and Managing Director of Routes Mike Howarth, during the 10th

World Route Development Forum in Madrid.

As said Dr. Dawid de Villiers, Deputy Secretary-General, "the WTO is advancing Liberalization with a Human Face on all fronts. This week we will urge Civil Aviation leaders meeting in ICAO in Montreal to create new framework conditions for cheaper flights to poorer countries. We will underscore our Essential Tourism Development Route (ETDR) proposal to help secure investment in those services as part of the overall development structure. Here in Madrid our new agreement with Routes will give tourism authorities a seat at the table when new air services are being planned.

The agreement also gives an opportunity to target new route development for the world's poorest countries, particularly in Africa."

 "Routes" is the "world route development forum" for airports and airlines established to promote route and service expansion. It desires to involve

tourism interests in its annual global and regional meetings and is interested in expanding airport activity and related air services in developing countries. Mike Howarth, managing director of Routes, stressed that "the track record that Routes has in helping countries and regions to build their tourism industry through air service development is considerable and we are delighted to be contributing through the WTO to the UN agenda of helping economic growth in emerging countries."

The parties have agreed within the Memorandum to cooperate closely in the future. WTO will associate itself with the global and regional Routes meetings and will encourage greater involvement by tourism interests.

"Routes" will apply for an Affiliate membership of WTO and will support the ETDR approach to air service expansion in developing markets. Both parties will consider ways and means to initiate an African Routes meeting in the coming twelve months and explore other regions thereafter.

 For further information contact:

Rok Klancnik, WTO Press and Communications Department

comm@world-tourism.org, Tel. (+34) 91-567-8191


Sarah Barnes, Routes

SBarnes@qbo-bellpottinger.co.uk; Tel. +44 7775 582 497, www.routesonline. com

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