Israel the stage for WTO conference

NEW YORK -- The World Tourism Organization will meet in Israel this month to discuss an industry code of ethics as well as the promotion of "peace tourism."

The Millennium Week in the Holy Land conference is scheduled to take place from Sept. 12 to 24.

Specific activities will begin in Amman, Jordan, on Sept. 17 with a seminar on Integrated Quality Management for Tourism, followed by a meeting of the WTO's Regional Commission for the Middle East and an audience with King Abdullah II.

In Bethlehem, meetings have been scheduled for Sept. 18 and 19 with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and local tourism professionals to discuss development issues.

On Sept. 20 and 21, there will be a WTO seminar on Implementing Ethical Principles in Tourism Development and a meeting with the president of Israel at Tel Aviv's Sheraton Moriah Hotel.

The week will end with a journey to the Sinai peninsula and a meeting of the WTO's high-level Strategic Group at Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

The nearly 250 anticipated attendees are expected to include tourism officials from Greece and other Mediterranean rim and Middle East countries as well as senior officials of the WTO.

In addition to a focus on having tourism contribute to the economic development of the area, the group will speak to the need for a global code of ethics to address the deception of tourists; the inability of sites to cope with large numbers of visitors; how to honestly assess destinations, accommodations and services, and how to clarify the meaning of travel advisories.

The meeting in Tel Aviv was requested by Israel's minister of tourism, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, and will be under the auspices of Israel's Ministry of Tourism.

The Middle East was reported to have the world's highest tourism growth rate in 1999, at 17.5%.

For information, send e-mail to the WTO at [email protected].

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