International Tourism Organisations

  • Post last modified:19 January 2023
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Today, the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses many of the lucrative industries like oil exports, food products or automobiles. Tourism has become one of the key players in international commerce and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for many developing countries like India. This growth goes hand in hand with an increasing diversification and competition amongst the domestic as well as international destinations.

This global spread of tourism in industrialised and developed states has produced economic and employment benefits in many related sectors – from construction to agriculture or telecommunications.

The contribution of tourism to the economic well–being depends on the quality and the revenues of the tourism offer. The tourism organisations assist destinations in their sustainable positioning in ever more complex national and international markets. The tourism organisations work on a national as well as international basis.

International Tourism Organisations

The important international tourism organisations are:

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is an international industry trade group of airlines headquartered in Montreal, Canada, where the International Civil Aviation Organisation is also headquartered.

IATA’s mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry.

Currently, IATA is present in over 150 countries covered through 101 offices around the globe.

IATA was formed on 19 April 1945, in Havana, Cuba. It is the successor to the International Air Traffic Association, founded in The Hague (Netherlands) in 1919, the year of the world’s first international scheduled services. At its founding, IATA had 57 members from 31 nations, mostly in Europe and North America. Today it has about 230 members from more than 140 nations in every part of the world and represents 93% of scheduled international air traffic.

IATA’s stated mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry. All the Airline rules and regulations are defined by IATA. The main aim of IATA is to provide safe and secure transportation to its passengers.

The main objective of the organization is to assist airline companies to achieve lawful competition and uniformity in prices.

For fare calculations, IATA has divided the world in three regions:

  1. South and North America

  2. Europe, Middle East and Africa: IATA Europe includes the geographical Europe and the countries Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

  3. Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific Ocean

These areas are called as traffic conference areas and abbreviated as TC1, TC2 and TC3 respectively. IATA assigns 3–letter IATA Airport Codes and 2–letter IATA Airline Designators, which are commonly used worldwide.

Name of the CityCountryIATA Code
Washington D.C.USWAS
New DelhiIndiaDEL

United Federation of Travel Agents Associations (UFTAA)

The United Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations (UFTAA) emanates from the Universal Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations created in Rome, Italy, on November 22nd, 1966. UFTAA was originally founded as a result of a merger of two large world organisations, FIAV and UOTAA, recognising the need to unify travel agencies and tour–operators into one international federation.

In 1989, coming from Brussels (Belgium) UFTAA set up its General Secretariat in the Principality of Monaco (a microstate in Europe).

UFTAA started its operation as a Confederation on January 1st, 2003. It is a non–profit Confederation of international scope, representing Regional Federations comprising some 80 national associations.

UFTAA is a world body representing the travel agency and tourism industry. UFTAA effectively represents Travel Agents and Tour Operators’ views on both Inbound and Outbound travel by continuous dialogue and consultation with other international organisations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Hotel and Restaurant Association (IH & RA), the International Union of Railways (IUR), the International Road Union (IRU) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

UFTAA has consultative status with the UN/NGO/ECOSOC and works closely with other world bodies such as UNESCO, WHO etc. for sustainable and responsible tourism. UFTAA is an affiliate member of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and its Business Council (WTOBC).

UFTAA’s mission is to be an international forum where matters affecting the world travel industry are addressed, representing and defending the interests of incoming and outgoing tour operators, travel and tourism agencies before the governmental bodies, suppliers and other entities of international scope. It also aims at strengthening its members’ image and enhancing the world travel and tourism industry and a sustainable tourism.

To comply with its mission, the Confederation develops the following functions:

  • To unite and consolidate the Federations of Travel Agents’ National Associations and to globally enhance the interests of their members

  • To represent the travel agents’ activities before various world–wide bodies, governmental authorities and suppliers

  • To work towards the adoption of measures that will ease travel for the consumer and to offer services to its member federations

  • To be an investigation and information centre supporting the member Federations’ work and to offer information for technological development

  • To offer, as a voluntary mechanism, an arbitration service which assists in solving conflicts resulting from commercial relations for which amicable settlement cannot be reached

  • To organise a world congress of travel agents and other meetings necessary to the exchange and transmission of knowledge

About UFTAA Members and Membership

Affiliates or Partners: These categories include individual travel agencies, hotels, tourist offices and, generally speaking, the stakeholders of the tourism and travel industry.

Members: This category includes the national or regional associations of travel and/or tourism.

American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is a business improvement organisation which represents and defends the business and regulatory public policy interests of travel intermediaries including travel agencies (including traditional “brick and mortar” agencies, online portals, mega– and corporate agencies and small and mid-market businesses) and tour providers (including wholesalers and operators).

The headquarters are in Alexandria, Virginia state, (USA). Its members include travel agents, intermediaries and supplier companies who offer travel products and services such as tours, cruises, hotels, destinations, tourist bureaus, ground transport, car rentals, local guides and hosts.

ASTA calls itself the leading advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the travelling public and has over 20,000 members in 140 countries. It is governed by a 15– member US-based Board of Directors drawn from members eligible to vote.

Most members are based in the USA. Voting members are only US-domiciled Travel Agent Members and Premium Members. According to ASTA bylaws (last revised in August 2009), ASTA has eight membership categories:

  • Travel Agent Members
  • Premium
  • International Travel Agency Company
  • International Travel Professional
  • Travel School
  • Allied Company (product, service and information suppliers to travel agencies)
  • Allied Associate
  • Honorary

Aim and objectives of ASTA, India are as follow

  • Increase membership to ASTA International by creating awareness of ASTA’ International’s activities, like trade shows, road shows, destination expo, IDE’s etc.

  • Encourage International members to become ASTA India Chapter members by highlighting the benefits like attending the Road Shows, Destination Expos and the business opportunities that it brings along with it.

  • Educate the Indian membership on the various segments of travel market in the US and allow them the opportunity to explore a segment that they specialise in.

  • Educate the Travel Agents in the US on Incredible India and its potential in the different segments of the market.

  • Organise seminars and invite specialists as guest speakers.

  • Maintain relations with Indian Tourism authorities and keep them updated on the ASTA International and ASTA India initiatives.

  • Maintain a continuous line of communication with newsletters, destination and product updates and circulate it amongst ASTA International and ASTA India membership.

  • Keep ASTA India members updated on the happenings in the US Political, Economic scenario and the American Travel Market in general.

  • Organise FAM Trips for ASTA International agents to India.

  • Meet regularly amongst ASTA India Membership and exchange views and have a guest speaker.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a membership association acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry. In partnership with PATA’s private and public sector members, we enhance the sustainable growth, value and quality of travel and tourism to, from and within the region.

On Tuesday, January 15, 1952, it was officially announced that 25 active and 12 allied members had signed the constitution and bylaws of what was now known as the Pacific Interim Travel Association (PITA). PITA was legally incorporated in the state of Hawaii two months later.

In its first year, PITA also worked with governments to ease entry and exit requirements for foreigners, seeing success in Japan, the US and the Philippines. By the second conference in March 1953 (held in Hawaii like the first) PITA had increased its membership from 33 active and allied members to 49. It was also at this conference that it was decided to change the association’s name to the ‘Pacific Area Travel Association’ – or PATA.

Even with the clarity of vision that hindsight provides, it would be difficult to imagine a better time to have started the Pacific Interim Travel Association* than that chosen by the organisers and 91 delegates to the First Pacific Area Travel Conference in 1952. They had displayed an uncanny sense of timing in addressing an issue whose time had come, which, in the largest sense, was developing travel to the Pacific region.

By the early 1950s, those who had an interest in the region were facing a tremendous range of opportunities. In 1952, commercial use of the jet airplane was still several years away and so was the explosion in Pacific travel that would occur in the 1960s. However, the Pacific Area Travel Conference of 1952 began to lay the essential foundation for the boom years to follow.

Fast forward to the present and travel and tourism is viewed by many notable economists to be one of the great growth industries of the 21st century. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)’s advantage is that it continues to influence the direction the industry takes through its unique membership structure of public–sector tourism organisations; air, land and sea carriers; and organisations engaged in the production, distribution, financing, consulting, educating and other technical aspects of the travel industry.

The theme “Proud Past, Promising Future” was adopted for the 50th PATA Annual Conference in 2001, during which members reflected on their Association’s achievements. PATA has unquestionably contributed to the sustainable development and success of travel and tourism in both the Pacific and Asia; has become the leader of Asia Pacific travel and tourism. The story of PATA is the story of the Association’s dedicated people – its members, officers, board and staff.

2004 saw PATA change its Mission Statement to include tourism ‘to, from and within’ Asia Pacific, thereby recognising the importance of the region as a growing outbound market. In 2010, PATA launched the Travel Intelligence Graphic Architecture (TIGA) initiative to enable better decision making by tourism professionals.

Anyone from the following sector can be a member of PATA.

  • Airline
  • Airport
  • Consulting
  • Cruise Line
  • Destination Management Company
  • Education
  • Event Venue
  • Finance
  • Government (Tourism Organisation)
  • Hotel Chain/Hospitality Management Company
  • Individual
  • Individual Hotel property
  • Insurance
  • Media
  • On–line Travel Business

World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), based in Madrid, Spain, is a United Nations agency dealing with questions relating to tourism. It compiles the World Tourism rankings. The World Tourism Organisation is a significant global body, concerned with the collection and collation of statistical information on international tourism. This organisation represents public sector tourism bodies, from most countries in the world and the publication of its data makes possible comparisons of the flow and growth of tourism on a global scale.

The World Tourism Organisation plays a role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.

The Organisation encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, with a view to ensuring that member countries, tourist destinations and businesses maximise the positive economic, social and cultural effects of tourism and fully reap its benefits, while minimising its negative social and environmental impacts.

UNWTO is committed to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, geared toward reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development.

council and the UN agreed to establish the WTO as a specialised agency of the UN. The significance of this collaboration would lie in “the increased visibility it gives the WTO and the recognition that will be accorded to. Tourism will be considered on an equal footing with other major activities of human society.

As of 2010, its membership included 154 member states, seven associate members, two observers.

15 of these members have withdrawn from the organisation for different periods in the past

  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Canada
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Kuwait
  • Malaysia
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Thailand
  • Puerto Rico

Additionally, there are some 350 affiliate members, representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

Aims and objectives of WTO

  • Promotional development of tourism
  • International understanding, peace, prosperity and human rights
  • Fundamental freedom of all without distinction to race, caste, sex, language or religion.

To attain this aim, the organisation shall pay particular tension to the interest of the developing countries in the field of tourism. The organisation shall establish and maintain effective collaborations with appropriate organs of UN and other agencies.

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a specialised agency of the United Nations, codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth. Its headquarters are located at Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The ICAO should not be confused with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade organisation for airlines also headquartered in Montreal, or with the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), an organisation for Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP’s) with its headquarters at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands.

The forerunner to the ICAO was the International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN).

  • It held its first convention in 1903 in Berlin, Germany but no agreements were reached amongst the eight countries that attended.
  • At the second convention in 1906, also held in Berlin, 27 countries attended.
  • The third convention, held in London, United Kingdom in 1912 allocated the first radio call signs for use by aircraft.

The ICAN existed until 1945, when the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organisation (PICAO) was established. The PICAO became the ICAO in 1947.

CAO members are 189 of the United Nations members and the Cook Islands. The non–member states are Dominica, Liechtenstein, Niue, Tuvalu, Vatican City and the states with limited recognition.

The ICAO also standardises certain functions for use in the airline industry, such as the Aeronautical Message Handling System AMHS; this probably makes it a standards organisation.

The ICAO defines an International Standard Atmosphere (also known as ICAO Standard Atmosphere), a model of the standard variation of pressure, temperature, density and viscosity with altitude in the Earth’s atmosphere. This is useful in calibrating instruments and designing aircraft.

The ICAO standardises machine–readable passports worldwide. Such passports have an area where some of the information otherwise written in textual form is written as strings of alphanumeric characters, printed in a manner suitable for optical character recognition. This enables border controllers and other law enforcement agents to process such passports quickly, without having to input the information manually into a computer.

ICAO publishes Doc 9303, Machine Readable Travel Documents, and the technical standard for machine-readable passports. A more recent standard is for biometric passports. These contain biometrics to authenticate the identity of travellers.

The passport’s critical information is stored on a tiny RFID computer chip, much like information stored on smartcards. Like some smartcards, the passport book design calls for an embedded contactless chip that is able to hold digital signature data to ensure the integrity of the passport and the biometric data.

Communication, Navigation, Surveillance /Air Traffic Management (CNS/ ATM) systems are communications, navigation and surveillance systems, employing digital technologies, including satellite systems together with various levels of automation, applied in support of a seamless global air traffic management system.

The ICAO airport code or location indicator is a four-letter alphanumeric code designating each airport around the world. Following are the examples of commonly used ICAO codes

Name of the CityCountryICAO Code
Washington D.C.USKIAD
New DelhiIndiaVIDP

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