15 December 2005

A University of Queensland academic will lead the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Education Council following elections held during its 16th General Assembly in Senegal, Africa last week.

The UNWTO is the specialist United Nations agency responsible for tourism, which brings together national governments of most countries of the world. UQ is currently the only one of two providers of tourism education in Australia which is accredited by the UNWTO.

Professor Chris Cooper, Head of the UQ School of Tourism and Leisure Management, was elected to the prestigious role of President of the Education Council following four years in which the School has worked closely with the UN agency.

“As the Vice-Chair of the Education Council in 2005 the School was an exceptionally energetic member of the UNWTO, offering a scholarship to the developing world and spearheading an innovative volunteer project which assists developing counties with tourism planning,” Professor Cooper said.

“Tourism is a $70 billion industry in Australia employing more than 500,000 people but the sector faces some growing issues around human resource shortages.

“It is our hope that this appointment will deliver us with an even greater capacity to continue our work, increasing tourism knowledge, raising the standard of tourism education and supporting growth within the industry as a whole.”

Chosen from a list of 40 international candidates, Professor Cooper will champion the aspirations of the UNWTO Education Council for a two year term.

The UNWTO has a mandate under the United Nations to promote the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, with the aim of contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and the universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The UNWTO Business Council will be led by Christopher Brown, Managing Director, TTF Australia (Tourism & Transport Forum). This is the first time Australians have held these roles.

Contact: Sarah Schindeler +61 7 3346 9989 or +61 0410 136 147 or s.schindeler@uq.edu.au