International Union of Official Travel Organisation (IUOTO)

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International Union of Official Travel Organisation (IUOTO)

In the year 1963, the importance of the work of the international organizations in the field of tourism was recognized by the United Nations Conference on International Travel and Tourism held in Rome in the year 1963. The conference recommended that “the United Nations should consider the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO), founded in 1947, as its main instrument for the promotion of tourism”.

The encouragement given by the United Nations to IUOTO paved the way for greater cooperation at the international level in the field of tourism. The growth of international tourism in the twenties and the consequent need for cooperation between the national tourist bodies, led to the holding of an international conference in 1925 called by the National Tourist Office of Holland.

Representatives of fourteen countries took part in the conference. Further conferences led to the setting up of the International Union of National Tourist Propaganda Organizations (IUNTPO) at The Hague. This body sought to promote facilitation and overcome the obstacles to free international tourist traffic; such obstacles having come about as a result of the 1914–18 World War.

IUNTPO, whose general aims were more streamlined than its tide, established close contact with the Economic Committee of the Old League of Nations. During the Second World War, IUNTPO had to discontinue its practical activities.

It was with the object of contributing to post–war reconstruction that one of its members, the Travel Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, decided in the spring of 1964 to call a World Conference of National Tourist Organizations to discuss the restoration and reconstruction of travel facilitation destroyed by the war.

The conference took place in London in October 1946 and the following year, in 1947, the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO) was founded. The Organization represented over one hundred national tourist offices of various countries as full members and about eighty–eight national and international organizations, of both public and private sector, as associate members.

It was at that time the only organization whose activities related to every aspect of tourism throughout the world. One of its major tasks was the stimulation and coordination of tourism development. The category of full members was restricted to national tourist organizations or other organizations set up to promote the development of tourism establishments and recognized by the governments of the countries.

The category of associate members was confined to international or national organizations, either commercial or non– commercial, representing tourist interest or interested in the promotion of tourism. The only international organization IUOTO grouped together the governmental or official tourist organizations of all parts of the world on the basis of one for each country and territory.

The principal aim of the organization was to stimulate and increase 14 free flows of persons in the interest of economic development and to strengthen social and cultural relations. This it tried to do by way of resolving the problems arising in the field of tourist movements and in the adoption of a common policy amongst members for all questions dealing with international travel.

The organization tried in various ways to develop the touristindustry in the member countries and particularly by promoting measures on a national as well as on an international level, aimed at reducing travel barriers and stimulating the movement of travellers.

The Organizational Set–up

The following chart shows the various IUOTO bodies responsible for drawing up and implementing its policy :

Organizational Set–up

The General Assembly

The General Assembly, which consisted of full and associate members, was a sovereign body of the IUOTO. It met once a year. It elected the President and the Vice President of the IUOTO, the members of the executive committee and the auditors and decided upon the applications for new membership. Laying down the general policy of the organization and the actions to be carried out was another important function of the General Assembly.

The Executive Committee

The Executive Committee consisted of eighteen full members, representing the various geographical areas. The Presidents of the Regional and Technical Commissions presided over by the President of the IUOTO and assisted by the Vice Presidents in an ex–official capacity. The Executive Committee was responsible to the General Assembly for the direction of the affairs of the IUOTO.

Regional Commissions

The following Regional Commissions were created by the IUOTO :

  1. The Regional Travel Commission for Europe comprised of the countries of western and Eastern Europe. The countries of Western Europe were also grouped in the European Travel Commission, which was an independent body responsible in particular for the collective publicity campaigns carried out in the United States of America.

  2. The African Travel Commission oversaw the tourism in African areas that had vast possibilities for growth.

  3. The Regional Travel Commission for the Pacific and East Asia. The members of this Commission were also members of the Pacific Area Travel Association (PATH), which had accepted to act as the regional commission for the Pacific and the East Asian Areas.

  4. The South Asian Travel Commission was responsible for developing modern travel facilities in a very extensive area which had become travel conscious.

  5. The Middle–East Travel Commission was responsible for developing travel facilities in the area. It had also created sub–commissions of the Arab and Non–Arab countries.

  6. The Regional Travel Commission for the Americas was created following the acceptance of the Inter–American Travel Congress to act as the regional travel commission of the IUOTO for the American continent as a whole.

Technical Committees

IUOTO had the following technical committees :

  1. Committee on the Elimination of Travel Barriers was concerned with the easing up of passport and visa requirements, frontier formalities including restrictions on the free circulation of publicity material, health regulations, taxes borne directly or indirectly by the tourists and tourist industry, currency controls and other matters which slow down travel.

  2. Research Committee was charged with studying international travel statistics as well carrying out other special studies with the assistance of the Advisory Committee

  3. Travel Plant Committee was responsible for studies on hotels as well as motels, hotel accommodation and classification, standardization of hotel guides, state aid to the hotel industry, the training of hotel personnel and additional means of accommodation.

  4. Committee on Travel Development offered assistance to member countries in the field of travel, counselled national tourist offices on publicity activities, dealt with social tourism and youth and credit travel. The Committee also dealt with travel films that came to be termed as an essential means of tourist publicity.

  5. The Transport Committee was responsible for examining the existing conditions in the field of rail, road, sea and air transportation and suggesting better facilities and improvements. It studied and recommended measures to improve the conditions and facilities available at airports, seaports and land frontier entry points.

The Secretariat General was the principal executive body for the decisions of the Assembly and the Executive Committee as well as the Presidency. It ensured the liaison between the members of the IUOTO, carried out the studies entrusted to it by the IUOTO members and charged with administration. It produced various IUOTO publications and ensured the functioning of the Tourist Documentation Centre.

IUOTO had closer cooperation with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Inter–Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO). It also had permanent links with the regional commissions of the United Nations.

The Organization was set up with the following objectives :

  1. To promote the economic development of countries through tourism

  2. To enhance the social and cultural role of tourism in the life of nations

  3. To further the vital contribution of tourism to international trade

  4. To foster the steady expansion of international tourist flow

  5. To update members with the results of tourist market research that would help them in keeping up to date with the developments in this field

  6. To guard the interests of tourists as well as the tourist industry

  7. To gain recognition of the value of tourism as a means of promotinginternational understanding and world peace.


The organization undertook various activities like monitoring and identifying trends in world tourism, studies on travel demands, market trends, tourist motivation, surveys of environmental effects of travel expansion and formulation of recommendations for the protection of natural and cultural resources.

Other activities included acting as a clearinghouse for tourist information, keeping its members informed on tourism development and its economic and social aspects, publication of material, fostering research in the field of tourism, organizing vocational training programmes and promoting the implementation of international agreements.

The various activities of IUOTO resulted in the countries significant achievements, some of which were undertaken jointly with other organizations. These included preparation and participation in the United Nations on Customs Facilities and Tourism (1954), initiation, preparation and participation in the United Nations Conference on International Travel and Tourism in Rome (1963) and initiation and realization of International Tourist Year (1967).

Besides establishing the Tourist Documentation Centre, the IUOTO has been responsible for organizing various international travel research seminars and workshops. Another significant achievement of IUOTO has been the establishment of the International Centre for Advanced Tourism Studies at Turin, Italy and organization of interdepartmental specialized seminars on marketing, management, physical planning and promotion.

It had also organized correspondence courses for the staff working in the field of tourism. Annual compilation and publication of official international travel statistics is yet another significant achievement of the IUOTO. The IUOTO was the only non–governmental organization whose activities covered almost every sector of tourism throughout the world.

The organization made a pioneering effort in the stimulation and coordination of tourism development at the global level. The pioneering task of the organization is now being carried out by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), which came into existence as a result of the transformation of IUOTO on January 2, 1975. World Tourism Organization was called upon to succeed IUOTO.

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