Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

WTO addresses developing country concerns in tourism symposium

On the 22nd and 23rd of February, the World Trade Organization held a Symposium on Tourism Services, with very active developing country participation — including as speakers. 

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The purpose of the symposium was “to evaluate current developments in international tourism” of relevance to the ongoing WTO services negotiations, and especially those developments related to a proposal from three developing countries, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras, to add a tourism annex to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). WTO Members decided to hold an informal Symposium, in order to be able to invite a wider range of tourism experts, including from the private sector, as well as to more freely discuss the issues concerned.

Symposium presentations and discussions were centred upon three major themes. Session I, titled Specificity of Tourism as a Set of Industries Heavily Dependent on Network Services, and its Treatment in GATS, included a statistical overview of current trends in international tourism; a presentation on the complex sectoral economic linkages in tourism and the role of the Tourism Satellite Account (a statistical methodology for measuring the economy-wide impact of tourism); and an overview by the WTO Secretariat of the existing GATS disciplines and commitments.

Session II, titled The Competitive Environment — Travel Distribution Systems, Access to Information and Issues Related to Passenger Transport, concerned the rapidly changing commercial linkages behind the supply of tourism services, as well as reports on national-level experiences with the entire range of tourism-related issues by Cuba, Jamaica, Portugal and Thailand. Presentations were given on tour operators, global distribution systems (GDS), and travel agents; international tourism and passenger transport; electronic commerce; competition issues, including the existence of anti-competitive practices; and the social, economic and environmental sustainability of international tourism.

Session III was an Open Debate of all the issues concerned. Topics raised in the discussions for the Symposium as a whole included visa-related restrictions (a general problem for almost all aspects of international trade); the imperfect nature of both tourism statistics and tourism classification systems; effects of horizontal restrictions (e.g. lack of guaranteed market access for skilled workers); profit levels of tour operators; and anti-competitive practices in home-country markets, including aviation-related practices.

Introduction by the chairman (2 pages; 29 KB in Word format)

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See also:

> Press release: Tourism Symposium at the WTO
> Programme

> Proposals for the new negotiations

Presentations and background materials Back to top

1. José Quevedo & Henryk F. Handszuh: “Overview of international trade in tourism services, including current statistics and trends” (3 pages; 28 KB in Word format)

Henryk Handszuh: PowerPoint presentation
Handszuh: Slides presentation (4 pages; 32 KB in Word format)
José Quevedo; Note on tourism statistics relevant to international trade in tourism services (6 pages; 35 KB in Word format)
Millennium tourism boom in 2000 (3 pages; 39 KB in Word format)
Results 2000 — Top 15 tourism destinations in 2000 (1 page; 24 KB in Word format)
List of Tourism Characteristic Activities (TSA/TCA) (1 page; 261 KB in Word format)
Inbound tourism consumption by products and categories of visitors (3 pages; 46 KB in Word format)

Miguel Alejandro Figueras: “International tourism in the Cuban economy” (10 pages; 62 KB in Word format)

PowerPoint presentation

3. Dale B. Honeck: “Overview of GATS disciplines and commitments” (2 pages; 27 KB in Word format)

Overview of GATS Disciplines and Commitments (As part of Session I: Specificity of Tourism as a Set of Industries Heavily Dependent on Network Services, and its Treatment in GATS) (5 pages; 36 KB in Word format)
WTO Secretariat: “Tourism Services” (26 pages; 242 KB in Word format)

Alan Flook: “The changing structure of international trade in tourism services, the tour operators perspective” (10 pages; 67 KB in Word format)

PowerPoint presentation

Yuan-Zheng Wang: “Airline product distribution systems and the regulatory framework” (2 pages; 28 KB in Word format)

ICAO PowerPoint presentation
ICAO presentation
(7 pages; 34 KB in Word format)
Attachments A; B; C: Attachment A: Resolution on a code of conduct for the regulation and operation of computer reservation systems — Attachment B: Code of conduct for the regulation and operation of computer reservation systems — Attachment C: Model clauses for computer reservation systems (31 pages; 123 KB in Word format)

6. Richard Smithies: “Airline views on the proposed tourism annex to the GATS” (6 pages; 42 KB in Word format)

PowerPoint presentation
Liberalisation of air transport and the GATS — IATA discussion paper (15 pages; 42 KB in pdf format)

Graham Wason (5 pages; 34 KB in Word format)

Eddie Nuque: “Is e-commerce a viable alternative to the traditional travel infrastructure?” (2 pages; 27 KB in Word format)

PowerPoint presentation

F. Souty: “Competition in International Tourism” (5 pages; 51 KB in Word format)

David Diaz (UNCTAD): “The viability and sustainability of international tourism in developing countries” (2 pages; 34 KB in Word format)

PowerPoint presentation
Presentation (21 pages; 2.7 MB in Word format)

Iain T. Christie, World Bank: “Viability of International Tourism” (PowerPoint presentation)

J. Bernardo de Lemos: “Expériences Nationales et Régionales dans le Domaine du Tourisme” (19 pages; 97 KB in Word format, French only)

Ms. Walailak Noypayak: “Thailand: Experiences in Trade Negotiations in the Tourism Sector” (5 pages; 108 KB in Word format)

PowerPoint presentation

Scott Meis: “The Tourism Satellite Account: A tool to reveal sectoral economic linkages” (3 pages; 256 KB in Word format)

PowerPoint presentation
Scott Meis: “Sectoral economic linkages and the role of the Tourism Satellite Account” (17 pages; 204 KB in pdf format)
Jocelyn Lapierre and Duane Hayes: “The Tourism Satellite Account” (26 pages; 137 KB in pdf format)
Jacques Delisle: “The Canadian National Tourism Indicators (NTI): a dynamic picture of the satellite” (10 pages; 43 KB in pdf format)
Jacques Delisle and Sylvain Venne: “Chapter 6: Tourism in Canada and its various economic facets” (9 pages; 50 KB in pdf format)

Contributions from participants Back to top

Relevant WTO documents back to top

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