The is a specialised agency of the United Nations. It has its headquarters in Madrid. UNWTO's membership includes 157 countries, 6 Associate Members, two permanent observers and over 500 Affiliate Members. The Secretariat is led by the Secretary General; it is responsible for implementing UNWTO's programme of work. Germany has been a full member of UNWTO since 1976. The task of the World Tourism Organization is to “promote and develop tourism with a view to contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, gender, language and religion”. As it does so, the UNWTO pays particular attention to the interests of developing countries.
The UNWTO’s programme of work pursues two interrelated strategic objectives:
A. Improving the competitiveness of the tourism services of the Member States (for example by fostering quality, innovation and the use of technology, easing travel restrictions, offering support with marketing, providing information and statistics on national and international tourism trends, looking ahead to future market developments, analysing the economic potential of tourism)
B. Ensuring sustainability and ethics in tourism (for example by increasing the contribution made by tourism to all aspects of sustainability and ethics, in particular to alleviating poverty and protecting the environment, mitigating climate change, preserving the cultural legacy and biodiversity, fully integrating tourism into the economic development of tourist regions)
UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to maximise tourism's socio-economic contribution while minimising its possible negative impacts.