Accessible Tourism

TRAVEL IMPACT NEWSWIRE โ€“ Edition 71 (2009) โ€“ 02 October 2009

More than 4,000 delegates, observers and representatives of corporations, indigenous peoples, civil society groups and media are in Bangkok for the penultimate round of talks that will decide the future of the global environment and its impact on our children. The travel & tourism industry has a huge stake in the ongoing series of climate change talks in the build-up to the summit in Copenhagen this December. Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor of Travel Impact Newswire is the only travel & tourism industry journalist in the Asia-Pacific covering these talks. This initial dispatch in Travel Impact Newswire includes a roundup of key statements made by the developing countries as they face off against the developed countries and seek accountability for their โ€œhistorical responsibilitiesโ€ in causing the climate change problem in the first place. These statements went virtually unreported in the global media but will be critical to the outcome which, at the moment, is not looking good.

This is the 13th in a series of weekly dispatches dedicated to the achievement of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals by the set target of 2015. Supported and sponsored by exclusive partner Amadeus, the leading travel technology company, these weekly dispatches are the first of their kind by a travel industry publication worldwide. They feature a roundup of activities, projects, plans and policies being undertaken by UN agencies, public & private sector organisations, universities, foundations and civil society movements to meet the MDGs. Hopefully, they will educate and inspire the travel & tourism industry to join the effort. No industry is better plac ed than travel & tourism to help meet nearly all components of the MDGs. By becoming more aware of ongoing projects and policies in areas the industry does not normally venture into, travel & tourism companies, associations and inst itutions will be able to identify many ways to fulfill both short-term profitability as well as a long-term global good. The support of Amadeus in this unique venture is acknowledged.

A WORD FROM MY SPONSORS -- AMADEUS, YOUR TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY PARTNER

Amadeus has announced that Bangkok Airways has implemented Amadeus Direct Access across all its destination markets, and Amadeus e-Ticket Direct in Myanmar. The implementation of these Amadeus solutions will make it easier for travel agencies around the world to access Bangkok Airwaysโ€™ real-time seats and book their flights. Amadeusโ€™ travel agents can now connect directly to Bangkok Airwaysโ€™ reservation system to obtain the most updated information, including โ€œlast seat availabilityโ€ and instant confirmation, thus minimising synchronisation issues and errors. Bangkok Airways has also implemented Amadeus e-Ticket Direct in one of its online travel markets, Myanmar, allowing Amadeusโ€™ travel agents there to issue e-tickets on Bangkok Airwaysโ€™ flights. There is no Billing and Settl ement Plan (BSP) in the country. Amadeus e-Ticket Direct will provide wider ticketing coverage for Bangkok Airways in Myanmar. Part of Amadeusโ€™ strategy to help airlines and agents make the booking and ticketing process as simple and accurate as possible, Amadeus Direct Access can help facilitate smoother flight bookings and allow agents to boost customer service. More than 110 international airlines have implemented the solution. Thirty-two airlines use Amadeus e-Ticket Direct in 29 markets.

For more information, please visit www.amadeus.com

HELP THE SURVIVAL OF SMALL & MEDIUM SIZED ENTERPRISES IN ASIA-PACIFIC TRAVEL & TOURISM

Messe Berlin (Singapore) has commissioned Travel Impact Newswire to compile a report of the efforts being made to help travel & tourism SMEs survive in these difficult days. As SMEs comprise the bedrock of the travel & tourism industry across the Asia-Pacific, their survival is of critical importance for jobs and income. Travel Impact Newswire would like to invite readers to provide data input for this landmark study, such as the various assistance measures extended by ministries, government agencies, finance institutions and industry associations across all categories of the travel industry in your respective countries. This could include help being extended for finance, marketing, training, operations and any other areas of business, targetted specially at SMEs.If readers have any frustrations about the way these assistance schemes are being managed or administered, those would be welcome, too. Anonymity is guaranteed. A sequel to a more generic study prepared last year, this detailed report will provide a comprehensive round-up of the assistance efforts and facilitate a significant sharing of experience. It will be presented at this yearโ€™s ITB Asia in October and later issued publicly free of charge. Please send your responses & feedback to Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil at imtiaz@travel-impact-newswire.com.

Travel Impact Newswire Executive Editor on the Speakers Circuit

In the past few weeks, T.I.N. Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil has spoken at a UN World Tourism Organisation Conference on Destination Management in Hangzhou, China, moderated a panel discussion at the ASEAN Hotel & Restaurant Association Congress (AHRA) on โ€œThe Future Vision of ASEAN Hospitalityโ€ and participated in a panel discussion organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand on โ€œImage Management For Thailandโ€™s Tourism & Business Industries." He will be participating in a panel discussion on the Silk Road organised during the UNWTO General Assembly in Astana, 08 October 2009. Travel industry conferences seeking a speaker who can offer some unique historical hindsight, unconventional foresight and thought-provoking insig ht on the past, present and future of the Asia Pacific travel & tourism indu stry can contact Imtiaz Muqbil at imtiaz@travel-impact-newswire.com.

1. Natural Disasters In Asia-Pacific Highlight Urgency For Climate Deal

Bangkok 2009-10-01 (UN/ESCAP Information Services) -- It is almost unprecedented for any region to experience so many disasters over such a short period of time. Since last Saturday, 26 September, Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines, a tsunami struck Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, and two massive earthquakes hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The resulting loss of lives, casualties and destruction to property is heartbreaking.

Climate change will only increase the magnitude and frequency of weather related disasters. So while not all of this past weekโ€™s natural disasters can be linked to climate change, they do underscore the need for negotiators here in Bangkok to reach a meaningful consensus that is both environmentally friendly and development oriented.

The world is at a historical turning point and must respond appropriately.

Firstly, we must not roll back the gains made in the fight against climate change and erode the progress achieved thought the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Consensus.

Secondly, the disasters of the past week remind us that Asia Pacific is the worldsโ€™ disaster hot spot. A person living in Asia Pacific is 4 times more likely to be affected by natural disasters than someone living in Africa and 25 times more likely than someone living in Europe or North America. Our region experienced 42 percent of the worlds natural disasters between 1999-2008. We need to improve our regionsโ€™ disaster preparedness. Studies have shown that for every dollar invested in risks associated with disaster, four to seven dollars can be saved. Investing in disaster risk reduction and prevention measures is not only a moral imperative, it is financially smart.

The climate change talks here in Bangkok must result in meaningful targets for reducing green house gas emissions and a range adaptation measures that assist the poor and vulnerable. These include disaster risk reduction and prevention measures that help reduce, and in some cases avoid, the tragic loss of life and property we have witnessed over the past week. Developing countries do not have the capacity or resources to achieve these measures on their own. They need the appropriate support, technology and funding from the international community if they are to make any meaningful progress.

Mother Nature is not waiting for a bureaucratic resolution and she does not accept compromises. We must set aside our differences if an agreement is to be reached in Copenhagen this December that protects the ecosystems upon which all our lives depend.

2. Flooding In The Philippines Takes Massive Toll

Bangkok, (Oxfam) -- The worst flooding the Philippines has seen in decades highlights the urgent need for US leadership to push UN climate change negotiations in Bangkok forward to help ensure the best chance of securing a global climate treaty in Copenhagen, international aid agency Oxfam said today.

In the Philippines, with many dead and 330,000 displaced by flooding in Manila, climate-related factors are blamed for an increased burden on the health budget, which is struggling to keep up with increased cases of nutritional deficiencies and diseases such as dengue, malaria and cholera.

Oxfam research shows that the number of people affected by climate crises is projected to rise to 54 per cent to 375 million over the next six years, threatening the worldโ€™s ability to respond.

Oxfam International Senior Climate Policy Adviser Antonio Hill said the content of the new US Climate Change and Energy Bill due to be introduced in the Senate this week, and moves from US officials in Bangkok from today, would provide a stronger picture of whether the US was willing to step up and provide the momentum desperately needed in the negotiations.

Mr Hill said recent announcements by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the EU on climate financing, and Japan and Chinaโ€™s stronger language last week on emissions reductions and finance, would put extra pressure on the US to step up and signal its intentions on its role in a global deal.

โ€œDespite good intentions and warm words over the past six months, the US didnโ€™t deliver real leadership last week at the UN Climate Summit and G20. Either the US lifts its game, or the next two weeks in Bangkok could go down as just a holding pattern before a fatal nosedive in Copenhagen,โ€ he said.

He said while many key countries, including China, India, Japan, African Union, the Least Developed Countries and the Alliance of Small Island States, had shown they were ready to enter the final, more detailed phase of negotiations, intransigence on the part of rich countries like the US, Canada and Australia was proving an obstacle to progress.

Key sticking points remain the emissions reductions developed countries are willing to deliver โ€“ current commitments are around 15 per cent instead of the science-based 40 per cent reductions on 1990 levels by 2020 - and the amount of financing they will put on the table for developing countries to both adapt to the impacts of climate change and develop on a low carbon pathway.

The two-week negotiations, held in South-East Asia, one of the worldโ€™s most vulnerable regions to climate change, is the penultimate negotiation session before Copenhagen in December, when a fair and safe global climate change treaty must be secured.

Mr Hill said that whilst last weekโ€™s summits in the US were forums for world leaders to signal their intentions, the UN negotiating process continuing in Bangkok was the only place where countries could forge an agreement to avoid catastrophic climate change.

โ€œItโ€™s crunch time,โ€ Mr Hill said. โ€œWhat is needed for a breakthrough is a clear commitment from developed countries โ€“ responsible for three-quarters of the carbon in the atmosphere - to commit to substantial finance, additional to existing aid levels, to developing countries.โ€

Climate change is already affecting South-East Asia: extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones have increased in frequency and intensity in recent decades, exacerbating water shortages, hampering agricultural production and threatening food security, causing forest fires and coastal degradation, and increasing health risks.

Mr Hill said a study in Thailand found that aquaculture farmers in Bang Khu Thian were spending an average of US$3,130 per household every year to protect their farms from coastal erosion and flooding between 1993 and 2007 โ€“ a fourth of annual household income.

โ€œOnce developing countries have confidence about the scale of resources rich countries are prepared to negotiate, then they can turn their attention to how they might achieve emissions reductions in their own countries, and work can begin on how a global climate fund could operate. These detailed negotiations must not be left till the eleventh hour in Copenhagen,โ€ he said.

Mr Hill said it was crucial that this finance be over and above existing aid commitments otherwise decades of development gains would be reversed and millions more people would be plunged deeper into poverty. He said the Copenhagen framework also needed to help enable smallholder farmers make agriculture resilient to climate impacts and achieve emissions reductions from the sector.

3. Climate Change Safety In Poorer States To Cost Up To $100 Billion A Year โ€“ World Bank

Sep 30 2009 - Adapting to the impact of global warming in developing countries is set to cost around $75 billion to $100 billion a year over the next 40 years, according to a new World Bank study presented today at United Nations climate change talks in Bangkok. The preliminary findings of the Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change study estimated the expense under two alternative future climate scenarios โ€“ โ€œdryโ€ and โ€œwetโ€ โ€“ with adaptation measures costing $75 billion annually in the relatively dryer scenario and $100 billion for the wetter climate picture every year from 2010 to 2050.

โ€œRoughly the costs of adapting to a 2 degrees centigrade warmer world are of the same order of magnitude as current overseas development assistance (ODA),โ€ said Katherine Sierra, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development. Ms. Sierra underscored the need for developing nations to prepare for large-scale infrastructure costs, disease and huge losses in agricultural productivity as the potential consequences of unchecked climate change. โ€œIn this respect, access to necessary financing will be critical,โ€ she stressed.

The report was released in Thailand at the penultimate round of UN-backed negotiations before world leaders meet in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, in December to hammer out a new greenhouse gas reduction treaty to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The highest adaptation costs will be borne by the East Asia and Pacific Region, followed closely by Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa, the report found. The drier scenario requires lower adaptation costs in all regions, except South Asia.

โ€œEconomic growth is the most powerful form of adaptation,โ€ said Warren Evans, Director of the World Bankโ€™s Environment Department, noting that the report suggests countries become less vulnerable to climate change as their economies grow. โ€œHowever, it cannot be โ€˜business as usual.โ€™ Adaptation minimizes the impacts of climate change, but it does not address its causes,โ€ said Mr. Evans, stressing that mitigation measures are key to โ€œreduce (the) catastrophic risks.โ€

4.Global Cooperation Crucial To Achieving Millennium Development Goals

Sep 29 2009 - Meeting the Millennium Development Goals, eight ambitious anti-poverty targets agreed on by world leaders, by their 2015 deadline will require concert global cooperation, nations have told the General Assemblyโ€™s high-level annual debate. Norway pointed out that the financial crisis has pushed millions into poverty. โ€œLoss of income is placing public policies at perilous risk, potentially undermining services on which the poorest and weakest depend the most, such as health and education,โ€ Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stรธre said today.

The lack of progress in improving maternal health, he said, is โ€œthe most disgraceful underachievementโ€ to date. Women urgently need continued services in clinics to ensure they deliver their children safely, with preparations made to transfer them to hospitals in the event of complications, Mr. Stรธre said on the last day of the high-level segment. โ€œStrengthening health services is key for reducing mother and child mortality, and is also a vital element in realizing the rights of women and children,โ€ he added.

Portugal underscored the need for โ€œcollective responsibility and international cohesionโ€ to reach the MDGs. โ€œA State that forgets the common good, sooner or later, will have instability, poverty and insecurity knocking at its door,โ€ Joรฃo Gomes Cravinho, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, warned at the Assembly yesterday.

For its part, the European nation will continue to concentrate a large percentage of its foreign aid on Africa, he said. Cooperation is essential at all levels โ€“ national, regional and international โ€“ to meet the MDGs, Foreign Minister Oldemiro Marques Balรณi of Mozambique told the Assembly, underscoring the key role played by the UN in coordinating international responses to current challenges. โ€œMozambique strongly believes in multilateralism, and that the United Nations is at the centre of it,โ€ he said.

โ€œWe also believe that the United Nations is a privileged forum that congregates the universal aspirations for a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous world, where the values of tolerance, respect of human rights and international cooperation for development are upheld.โ€

For its part, San Marino also called for the world body to be at the forefront of efforts to โ€œpromote the affirmation of democracy, rule of law, freedoms and human rights as a condition for economic and social development, cultural growth and education.โ€ Foreign Minister Antonella Mularoni acknowledged that achieving the MDGs have been made more difficult in the face of the economic downturn, but emphasized that โ€œwe must continue in our commitment.โ€

5. Push For Investment In โ€˜Greenโ€™ Growth For Developing Countries

Sep 29 2009 - Senior United Nations officials today called for any new greenhouse gas emissions pact, slated to be agreed at a December conference in Copenhagen, to ensure support for developing countries to embark on environmentally friendly development paths.

The UN officials were speaking to around 4,000 delegates gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, for the second day of two weeks of climate change talks, the penultimate round of negotiations ahead of the meeting in the Danish capital. Overcoming poverty and combating climate change are inextricably linked challenges faced by most developing countries in Asia and the Pacific, Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) told the conference, including government delegates from 177 countries.

โ€œFailure to tackle one will undermine efforts to deal with the other,โ€ said Ms. Heyzer, adding that ESCAP Member States have begun discussing new climate friendly development plans. โ€œGreen growth is economic growth that uses environmental resources productively, maintaining or restoring environmental quality and ecological integrity, while meeting the needs of all people,โ€ she said.

On the sidelines of the Bangkok talks, city leaders and their national counterparts on the UNFCCC negotiating teams called for increased support for cities to adapt to the risks posed by climate change, in a discussion meeting organized by the Rockefeller Foundation with the help of ESCAP, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR), the ProVention Consortium and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

Given Asiaโ€™s rapidly growing urban population โ€“ projected to account for more than 60 per cent of the global population growth over the next 30 years โ€“ coupled with impact of climate change, the region is expected to face a multitude of unprecedented risks over the next few decades. โ€œAsiaโ€™s cities are booming economic centres attracting thousands of new residents each day, and we need to invest in ensuring that these cities remain safe, resilient and vibrant,โ€ said Rockefeller Foundation Managing Director Ashvin Dayal.

6. Role Of Forests In Combating Global Warming Deserves Priority

Sep 29 2009 - The vital role of forests in reducing greenhouse gas emissions deserves priority at the United Nations talks aimed at reaching a new international agreement to combat global warming, the General Assembly was told today. Almost 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions โ€“ more than all the worldโ€™s cars, trucks, ships and planes combined โ€“ result from deforestation and degradation of forests, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Yet, deforestation continues at an โ€œalarmingโ€ pace, Samuel Abal, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration of Papua New Guinea, told the Assemblyโ€™s high-level debate. He noted that around 13 million hectares of the worldโ€™s forests are being lost annually โ€“ an area the size of Denmark, Norway and Belgium combined.

This made it all the more urgent to ensure the resources to carry out the UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) initiative, he stated. Launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last year, UN-REDD compensates developing countries for reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

โ€œWithout rapid and significant reductions in emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, added to deep emissions reductions by rich countries, it may be impossible to avoid global warming levels that prove catastrophic for many vulnerable nations,โ€ Mr. Abal said.

He added that to succeed on this issue rich countries must come forward and take the lead. โ€œWithout their collective leadership on emission reductions, finance and technology, governments of developing countries will not be able to make a compelling case at home to get people to allow trees to be left standing.โ€

Hassan Wirajuda, Indonesiaโ€™s Minister for Foreign Affairs, also highlighted the need to give the role of forests the priority it deserves, adding that โ€œwe cannot allow the negotiation process to be derailed: the stakes are too high.

โ€œWe need not even wait for a consensus,โ€ he said, noting that alliances can be forged to carry out concrete projects such as the Indonesia Forest Carbon Partnership, which assists developing countries in their efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation by providing value to standing forests. Mr. Wirajuda added that Indonesia will be hosting a ministerial meeting in Jakarta next month on the issue of forests.

7. Strict Global Carbon Budget Needed To Tackle Climate Change - WWF

Bangkok - A strict global carbon budget between now and 2050 based on a fair distribution between rich and poor nations has the potential to prevent dangerous climate change and keep temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius, a new WWF report shows.

The report, called โ€œSharing the effort under a global carbon budgetโ€, is based on research, calculations and analysis by the consultancy ECOFYS and shows different ways to cut global emissions by at least 80% globally by 2050 and by 30% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

โ€œIn order to avoid the worst and most dramatic consequences of climate change, governments need to apply the strictest measures to stay within a tight and total long-term global carbon budget,โ€ said Stephan Singer, Director of Global Energy Policy at WWF.

โ€œIf governments โ€˜relaxโ€™ the rules according to which they distribute emissions, we will end up in climate chaos. There is no such thing as carbon offset for Planet Earth. We have just one planet and it needs one emissions budget. Ultimately, a global carbon budget is equal to a full global cap on emissions.โ€

According to the analysis, the total carbon budget โ€“ the amount of tolerable global emissions over a period of time โ€“ has to be set roughly at 1600 Gt CO2eq between the years 1990 and 2050.

As the world has already emitted a large part of this, the budget from today until 2050 is reduced to 970 Gt CO2eq excluding land use changes. The report evaluates different pathways to reduce emissions, all in line with the budget. It describes three different methodologies which could be applied to distribute the burden and the benefits of a Global Carbon Budget in a fair and equitable way.

The report says that by 2050, the GDR methodology requires the developed nations (Annex I) as a group to reduce emissions by 157%. Given that they cannot cut domestic emissions by more than 100%, they will need to finance emission reductions in other countries to reach their total. The different methods give various options for non-Annex I countries.

While the Greenhouse Development Rights (GDR) method allows an increase for most developing countries, at least for the initial period, the two other methods give less room for emissions increase. Under the C&C and CDC methodology, China โ€“ for example โ€“ would be required to reduce by at least 70% and India by 2 to 7% by 2050 compared to 1990. The poorest countries would be allowed to continue to grow emissions until at least 2050 under the GDR methodology, but would be required to reduce after 2025 under the two remaining allocation options.

8. US Corporate Polluters Should Not Determine Copenhagen Outcome - Greenpeace

Bangkok, 1 October 2009 โ€“ In the face of another flawed climate bill, President Obama must step up, take leadership to create a strong international climate treaty in Copenhagen, Greenpeace said today. โ€œThe Senate bill introduced today falls far short of the minimum emissions reductions scientists say are necessary from a big and wealthy polluter like the US to avoid the worst effects of global warming,โ€ said Rolf Skar, of Greenpeace U.S. at the climate talks in Bangkok.

โ€œWhile the billโ€™s pollution cuts, at 7% by 2020 (at 1990 levels), are meagre, its subsidies and loopholes for corporate polluters are huge,โ€ he said. He said the threat of catastrophic climate change is too severe for President Obama to allow corporate lobbyists to run the show. The coal and oil companies in particular have poured millions into lobbying against climate action โ€“ and getting their staff to turn out at rallies across the country.

In the US it is the President who is charged with leading foreign policy and negotiating treaties. โ€œWhat we need now is strong leadership from President Obama โ€“ he must reject fossil fuel industry attempts to define the strength of the international climate agreement in Copenhagen,โ€ he continued. โ€œObama is the President of the United States โ€“ oil and coal industry lobbyists are not.โ€

Greenpeace pointed out that in contrast to the US Senate bill, large emitters in the developing world, including China and India, have made substantial new commitments to climate action in the leadup to the Bangkok negotiations. โ€œWith an historic deadline in Copenhagen just over two months away, President Obama needs to take charge to ensure a fair, science-based, binding global deal is reached in Copenhagen, and to tell the US Congress to get serious about climate action.โ€

9. General Assembly Next Week To Usher In An Era Of Change At UNWTO, Too

Madrid, Spain, 30 September 2009 - In the midst of economic, climate, social and health challenges, the 18th session of the UNWTO General Assembly will convene in Astana, Kazakhstan from 5-8 October. UNWTO itself is also undergoing significant changes with the election of a new Secretary-General to take place at the Assembly.

Since the last session of the General Assembly (November 2007, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia) the travel and tourism industry has had to endure the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, accelerating trends of climate change and the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic. To confront these challenges and steer the tourism industry on the path to recovery, this yearโ€™s General Assembly will bring together tourism ministers and senior officials from national tourism organizations, as well as public, private and academic Affiliate Members.

Travel & tourism and the global economy: The Roadmap for Recovery will be officially presented in Astana. The document is the result of an intense work programme of the UNWTO Tourism Resilience Committee and is aimed at guiding the sector out of the economic downturn. The Roadmap calls on world leaders to place tourism and travel at the core of stimulus packages and the Green New Deal. The sector has the potential to play an essential role in the post crisis recovery by providing jobs, infrastructure, stimulating trade and aiding development and should thus be a key consideration at future global economic summits. The Roadmap will be presented by the UNWTO Secretary-General a.i. Taleb Rifai and set the stage for this Assemblyโ€™s general debate (5 and 6 October). It will furthermore be the topic of the third meeting of the Tourism Resilience Committee (8 October).

Election of the New Secretary-General: The 85th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, meeting in Mali in May this year, recommended Taleb Rifai for the post of UNWTO Secretary-General. If the recommendation is ratified by the General Assembly, Mr. Rifai will begin his 4 year mandate in January 2010 when he will start to implement his agenda structured around membership, partnerships and governance.

Travel facilitation: As one of the main income sources for many countries, in particular developing states, and an engine of job creation, barriers to travel such as visa processes must be scrutinized objectively. This is even more the case in times of economic downturn. A declaration on the facilitation of tourist travel will be presented at the General Assembly (7 October) urging governments to consider measures such as simplifying visa applications and re-evaluating travel advisories. Facilitating travel is not only necessary for the resilience of the sector, but also the global economic recovery.

Pandemic preparedness: Along similar lines, the General Assembly will call for responsible travel in the course of the A(H1N1) pandemic (6 October), urging governments not to take unilateral measures that may unnecessarily disrupt global travel during a briefing on the virus. UNWTO has held two review and preparation exercises on โ€˜Travel and Tourism in pandemic conditionsโ€™ which will form part of a briefing on the status of the virus and its impact on the tourism sector. This is of particular importance given that October is the beginning of the winter flu season in the Northern Hemisphere.

Technical cooperation: The General Assembly will also, inter alia, host a meeting concerning the development and promotion of cultural tourism as part of the ongoing Silk Road project (8 October); propose the themes selected for World Tourism Day 2010 and 2011 (7 October); decide the places and dates of the 19th Session of the General Assembly and convene a meeting of the ST-EP Foundation/Working Group (7 October).

Communications campaign: This year, for the first time, UNWTO is preparing a special communications campaign and all Assembly proceedings will be made available to the media. This footage will include interviews with top tourism officials reflecting on the challenges facing international tourism and the future development of the sector. Relevant links:

General Assembly: www.unwto.org/ga.php

Video: Support tourism, support your economy: www.unwto.org/videogallery/index.php?ruta=support

Roadmap for Recovery: www.unwto.org/conferences/ga/en/pdf/18_08.pdf

Tourism Resilience Committee: www.unwto.org/trc/index.php?lang=E

Declaration on the Facilitation of Tourist Travel:

www.unwto.org/conferences/ga/en/pdf/18_20.pdf

SOS.Travel:www.sos.travel/

10. Remembering Mahatma Gandhi On Oct 2, International Day Of Non-Violence

Message from the UN Secretary General Bak-Ki Moon

2 October 2009 -- Mahatma Gandhi, whose legacy this annual observance celebrates, once observed that โ€œnon-violence, to be worth anything, has to work in the face of hostile forces.โ€ In todayโ€™s world, we face many hostile forces -- multiple and persistent crises that demand a response from leaders and grassroots alike.

Gandhi understood that a powerful idea could change the world. He knew that individuals, working alone and together, could realize what others might dismiss as impossible dreams. Inspired by Gandhiโ€™s life of non-violence, the United Nations today works to end violence. We strive, for example, to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction.

Our recent WMD campaign โ€“ we must disarm โ€“ sought to raise awareness about the high cost of weapons of mass destruction. Recent initiatives and meetings, including last weekโ€™s Security Council summit on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, have improved prospects for reductions in global arsenals. We must sustain this momentum, and press for success at next yearโ€™s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference and beyond.

The call to non-violence need not apply only to the use of deadly weapons. The United Nations and its grassroots partners have long campaigned to stop the human assault on our planet. Greenhouse gas emissions have been part of this onslaught, and now threaten catastrophic climate change. I urge activists everywhere to turn up the heat on world leaders to seal a deal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

The appalling violence inflicted on women and girls throughout the world must also be at the centre of our concerns. An estimated 150 million women and girls are victimized each year. R++e is increasingly widespread as a weapon of war. Victims of ceksual coercion are more likely to suffer ceksually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. I urge all partners to join my UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, which aims to raise awareness and funds to fight this problem in all parts of the world โ€“ since no country is immune.

On this International Day, let us celebrate โ€“ and embody โ€“ the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi by heeding his call for a movement of non-violence. Let us end violence in all its manifestations, and strengthen our collective work for a safer, greener and more peaceful world.

11. The Tango Takes Its Turn On UNESCOโ€™s List Of Intangible Heritage

Sep 30 2009 - The tango, spawned over a century ago in the lower class barrios of Buenos Aires and Montevideo before bursting on to dance floors worldwide, today danced itself on to the United Nations-endorsed list of the planetโ€™s intangible cultural heritage. Together with dances of the Ainu in Japan, the Ashiqs in Azerbaijan and Korean and Tibetan ethnic groups in China, and others from Rรฉunion island, India, Mexico and the Republic of Korea (ROK) it joined a host of cultural elements ranging from Franceโ€™s Aubusson tapestries to Holy Week processions in Popayรกn, Colombia, to be added to the list.

In all, 76 cultural elements were inscribed on the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, chosen by the 24 Member States of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage at its fourth session in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The list was inaugurated last November in accordance with UNESCOโ€™s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which seeks to protect the worldโ€™s oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, craftsmanship and knowledge of nature.

Todayโ€™s inscriptions ranged from religious ceremonies, like the Procession of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium, the Panagyr ritual on the feast days of Saints Constantine and Helena in Bulgari, Bulgaria, and religious ritual theatre in the Garhwal Himalayas, India, to lace making in Croatia, a masked end-of-winter carnival in Mohรกcs, Hungary, and the Voladores (โ€˜flying menโ€™) fertility dance of ethnic groups in Mexico and Central America.

The inscriptions comprise cultural elements from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the ROK, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam.

12. UNESCO Seeks To Save Drone Singing And Other Dying Traditions

Oct 1 2009 -- A new United Nations-backed initiative to prevent age-old cultural practices from dying out was launched today, with traditions ranging from Latvian female drone singing to a collective fishing rite in Mali becoming eligible for funding to ensure their survival.

They were among 12 practices from eight countries inscribed on the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Committee considered the traditions to be endangered despite the efforts of communities or groups concerned. Countries involved will now implement specific safeguarding plans, with the practices eligible for financial assistance from a special fund.

Traditions to be safeguarded include the โ€œSuiti cultural spaceโ€ of a small Catholic community in predominantly Lutheran western Latvia, characterized by vocal female drone singing, wedding customs, colourful costumes, the Suiti language, local cuisine, and folk songs, dances and melodies, at present only familiar to a few, mostly older people.

Droning comes in for protection in Mongolia, too, where Tsuur music of the Uriankhai, simultaneously blending sounds from a three-holed pipe and the human throat, has faded due to neglect and disrespect of folk customs and religion. Touching the Tsuur mouthpiece with the front teeth and applying the throat produces a unique timbre comprising a clear, gentle whistling sound with a drone.

Two other Mongolian practices are earmarked โ€“ Biyelgee ethnic dances in Khovd and Uvs provinces, embodying the nomadic way of life and typically confined to the small space inside the ger (tent); and the Tuuli oral tradition of heroic epics that can run to thousands of verses of benedictions, eulogies, spells, myths and folk songs.

Other practices inscribed today include the Kalyady Tsars (Christmas Tsars) ritual in Semezhava, Belarus; the Qiang New Year Festival, wooden arch bridge design, and Li textile techniques of spinning, dyeing, weaving and embroidering, all in China; Ca trรน singing, a complex form of sung poetry in northern Viet Nam; and Cantu in paghjella, a male singing tradition combining three vocal registers in Corsica, France.

African traditions include the Sankรฉ mon collective fishing rite in Mali on the second Thursday of the seventh lunar month, combining the sacrifice of roosters and goats to the water spirits of Sankรฉ pond, followed by collective fishing over 15 hours and a masked dance; and oral traditions and performing arts of the Kayas in the sacred forests of the Mijikenda, Kenya, which are also sources of valuable medicinal plants.

Yesterday the Committee inscribed 76 traditions from around the world, including the tango, religious processions and fertility dances on UNESCOโ€™s the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

13. 300 Young Visionaries To Gather For ITU Telecom World 2009

Geneva, 30 September 2009 โ€” Some 300 young people of university age from 150 countries worldwide will attend the ITU Youth Forum, a key element of the ITU Telecom World event taking place in Geneva from 4-9 October 2009. The Youth Forum, sponsored by the state of Geneva and the ITU, brings together students with the vision and talent to take on key leadership roles in the future within the global information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

โ€œOnce young people are equipped with information and know-how, they will be able to use their ingenuity and resourcefulness to develop their potential. Helping them to realize their personal goals through ICTs will also drive their countryโ€™s socio-economic development,โ€ said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Tourรฉ.

During the course of the ITU Telecom World event, Youth Forum Fellows (participants) will follow a packed programme of discussion and debate, with opportunities to interact and develop mentor relationships with senior members of the ICT sector - government officials, industry executives, technology leaders, content providers and strategists. Fellows will elect their own leadership and, as a culmination to the week, will draft and present a Declaration and Action Plan conveying their global vision for expanding the benefits of ICT. Additionally, they will also have the opportunity to involve themselves in the main ITU Telecom World 2009 event, learning about the array of new technologies on display on the show floor as well as taking part in key sessions of the Forum programme.

This yearโ€™s Youth Forum Fellows have been selected on the basis of their written responses to the question, โ€œWhat is the biggest problem facing your community and how would you use ICT to solve it?โ€ The essay submissions discussed a broad range of topics - from ICTโ€™s role in tackling child slavery, the spread of disease, famine and drought, to innovative applications of mobile, GPS and virtual technologies that can improve transport systems, manufacturing processes, health services and education. One of the key issues under discussion this year will be how public-private partnerships can promote school connectivity.

โ€œICT has already proven its ability to transform the way we do business,โ€ said one Youth Forum 2009 Fellow. โ€œIt also has the ability to provide the crucial infrastructure and capability required to revolutionize the way we deliver education to all communities.โ€

The Youth Forum initiative - which many Fellows proclaim to be a life-changing experience - was first launched at ITU Telecom Africa 2001 and has since been a regular and valued part of ITU Telecom events. โ€œAs the Youth Forum enhances synergies between governments, the private sector, universities and other higher institutions of learning, we are building a commitment among young people to work for development โ€“ and giving them the skills and contacts they need to be effective in this work,โ€ said Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.

โ€œThe programme is designed not only to provide an enlightening and exciting five days at ITU Telecom, but to engender and support proactive developmental activities in communities throughout the world. We consider our investment in the Youth Forum to be crucial for future innovation and development in our sector - and the fact that many of our Youth Forum alumni have gone on to work in the field of telecommunications is demonstrative of the programmeโ€™s worth.โ€

Cisco Systems, the Internet Society and Nokia Siemens, along with ITUโ€™s own Radiocommunication, Standardization and Development Sectors, will sponsor lunch sessions for Youth Forum Fellows. ITUโ€™s relationship with Youth Fellows does not stop at ITU Telecom events. ITU continues to nurture alumni via the Youth and Children Special Initiative, helping facilitate scholarships and internships as well as collaborating with industry partners to support community projects designed by Youth Forum alumni. Examples of success stories reported by Youth Forum alumni can be found here.

14. Call For Greater State Support For Elderly On International Day

Oct 1 2009 -- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today led a call for governments to build inclusive societies that emphasize participation, self-fulfilment, independence, care and dignity for people of all ages, especially the elderly. In a message marking the 10th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons, observed annually on 1 October, Mr. Ban noted that the motto โ€œtowards a society for all agesโ€ was adopted in 1999 and reaffirmed at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002.

โ€œWe have campaigned for policies that will enable older persons to live in an environment that enhances their capabilities, fosters their independence, and provides them with adequate support and care as they age,โ€ said Mr. Ban. He stressed that this emphasis takes on even greater importance as the world struggles to confront global food, energy, climate, financial and economic crises.

โ€œWe must put an end to age discrimination, abuse, neglect and violence against older persons,โ€ said Mr. Ban. โ€œI urge states to put the necessary legal protections in place, and I urge all partners to help countries develop the capacity and institutions to achieve this objective.โ€

United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepรบlveda, underscored the importance of Government-run social pension schemes and protection systems, in her message for the Day.

โ€œIt is high time to kill the myth of pensions being unaffordable for poor countries,โ€ said Ms. Sepรบlveda, noting that non-contributory pensions are the simplest way to keep older persons out of poverty. โ€œWe only need to look at the achievements in any of the 46 middle- and low-income countries that have social pensions. Social pensions not only improve the living conditions of older persons, but also that of their families. So they benefit society as a whole.โ€

Ms. Sepรบlveda said that four other persons benefit from a social pension on average, which in turn contributes to the economic development of poor communities. Children living with pensioners tend to be better nourished and more likely to attend school than those living with older relatives where no pension scheme exists.

โ€œMost States have been neglecting for years their obligations under the right to social security, for example by not ensuring that poor people who worked in the informal economy all their lives can count on a basic, non-contributory, pension,โ€ said Ms. Sepรบlveda. โ€œOlder people deserve more.โ€

Source: Travel Impact Newswire [mailto:imtiaz@travel-impact-newswire.com]

By: Executive Editor: Imtiaz Muqbil.
When: 7/2/2014

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