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SALVADOR, BRAZIL (December 3, 2004) The United Nations Secretary General and President Luiz Inacio "Lula" Da Silva of Brazil stressed the importance of tourism to the global fight against joblessness, to saving the environment, and to fostering peace and sustainable development.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asserted sustainable tourism could play a significant role in "lifting people out of poverty".

Sustainable tourism was one of the few ways open to the poorest countries to take part in the global economy. Tourism, he added, generates valuable foreign exchange and directly benefits other sectors of the economies of poorer countries.

In a message read to participants of the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development, Annan said sustainable tourism can aid agriculture, food production and rural poverty in the least developed countries.

However, he warned of the dangers of non-sustainable tourism, citing the scourges of sex tourism, abuse of indigenous peoples "and most of all child sex tourism". He urged adherence to a global code of ethics and called for the formation of "truly responsible partnerships" for sustainable tourism development.

President Lula told participants from more than sixty countries attending the World Tourism Forum here in the colonial capital of Brazil's impoverished north eastern Bahia state, "nothing fosters peace more than the free flows of people".

Sustainable tourism, according to the Brazilian president, can lift the self esteem of communities when they see the value to others of their heritage, culture and way of life. The restoration of national self esteem, he declared, contributes to the strength of the economy. Some ten-percent of the 1.3 million jobs created in Brazil, he added, were in the tourism sector.

Proclaiming his desire to boost the number of visitors to Brazil, Lula predicted tourism will "soon be the major driver" of the Brazilian economy, which is expected to top five percent growth this year.

Thanks to the World Tourism Forum, said Lelei LeLaulu, president of Counterpart International, a Forum organizer, "linkages are now clearly drawn between sustainable tourism development and poverty alleviation, peace, biodiversity conservation and healthy communities."

The World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development was brought to life by President Lula and Brazil's Institute of Hospitality which attracted private sector funding and substantive support from the National Geographic Society and Counterpart International.


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