UN tourism agency sets up Internet platform for socially conscious travellers

UN tourism agency sets up Internet platform for socially conscious travellers

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Socially conscious travellers will now be able to use a secure Internet network to exchange information on ethical tourism that seeks to promote sustainable development and help poor communities around the world under a new project of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

“The time is right to take advantage of new technologies to advance the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics,” the agency’s Assistant Secretary-General Geoffrey Lipman said of yesterday’s agreement by UNWTO and WISeKey to expand the use of traveller identification and authentication technologies to deliver YouTourist as a unique e-Tourism Social Network.

“The explosion of social networks fits perfectly with the spirit of the responsible and sustainable tourism that we are seeking to encourage,” he added of the Code, a blueprint for safeguarding the resources upon which tourism depends and ensuring that its benefits are equitably shared in the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs seek to slash a host of social ills, such as extreme hunger and poverty, infant and maternal mortality and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.

The UNWTO sets out guiding principles for governments, destinations, tour operators, travel agents, tourism workers, developers, and travellers themselves.

Based on WISeKey Digital Identification and Microsoft Cardspace technologies, the new platform allows tourist to connect with one another. YouTourist encourages exchanges of pictures, videos, and comments and gives special communication opportunities for local communities and travel companies involved in the whole chain of tourism development.

Crosscutting areas in poverty alleviation can be greatly aided by introducing the type of technology available for travel industry Trusted Social Networks. Digital Identification for secure participation will be a key element.

The Trusted Social Network for the Tourism Industry will inter connect to the global information infrastructure provided by agencies offering e-Tourism Services. It will federate participating agencies into a global e-Tourism Portal using Single Sign On technologies.

The new project builds on the Public Private Partnership agreement signed last year by UNWTO and Microsoft to use information technology to improve the tourism industry’s competitiveness and quality in developing countries, especially in Africa which at present accounts for only 4 per cent of international tourism.