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Dho Young-shim: A tourism advocate for humanity and sustainability

The Republic of Korea is reaching out to the world in need, the world of children. And this reaching out is part of a global tourism initiative under the leadership of a Korean lady. This lady is also the only female candidate to become the next Secretary-General for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

The lady behind it is Mrs. Dho Young-shim.

On September 25th, 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

UNWTO and for tourism, the ST-EP Foundation started.  Part of this activity was the  “Thank you Small Library “ project spearheaded by the ST-EP Foundation. This grassroots initiative established libraries in poor areas of the world as tools for community development and employment.

Connected with over 16 international organizations and programs, the UN SDGs TYsl initiative has built sustainable Public-Private Partnerships and has received significant support from the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, and other partners.

The Initiative has positively changed the world of children and their communities. By giving children access to reading and learning facilities, while promoting the role sports and music have in education was part of the concept.

The initial advocacy Group (2010-2015) was established by Ban Ki Moon. Ambassador Dho Young-shim was appointed as an advocate. The role Madame Dho holds within The ST-EP Foundation and for the growth of Universal Primary Education has been unanimously recognized.

Dho’s initiative furthers reading and learning while offering a place where children can develop their education, sport, and music. The model is based on the Korean know-how and experience the country went through when eliminating poverty.

Through ST-EP and under Madam Dho’s leadership this concept was spread around the world, with a clear focus in Africa.

In the 60s and 70s. Korea was among the poorest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of $82 in 1961. Today Korea is a major economic power and one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a GDP per capita of 20.000 US$ (2007). To undertake such a transition from a beneficiary country to a donor country, Korea is giving back, this time through sustainable tourism projects.

The establishment of libraries in the world

ST-EP established so far 156 libraried for childern in Africa  and 4 for adults, total 160. They are established in 14 states.
In addition Mongolia, Vietnam, India, Moldova and 14 more countries also have libraries established through the ST-EP initiative. More libraries are in the planning.

Each library is provided with: 3000 books including textbooks. storybooks, non-fiction books and dictionaries.

Libraries have bookshelves, round tables, chairs, desk and a chair for the librarian. Other items: computer set, first aid kits, soccer balls, stationery, pens, pencils, sharpeners, notebooks, educational posters, maps etc.

Books for blind people are now available in Ethiopia starting 2015 in cooperation with the Ethiopian National Association of the blind.

Millenium villages as Tourism Destinations

Ambassador Dho Young-shim implementation of the Millennium Villages as a Tourism Destinations (MVTD) project, and established by the UNWTO ST-EP Foundation is to create tourism-related jobs, income and business opportunities in 14 Millennium Villages in 10 countries of Sub-Sahara Africa.

This 5-year project was implemented in2011.

Hospitals for population in need

The MCM general hospital located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was founded by Myung sung Presbyterian church of South Korea to provide quality health care to Ethiopians and to train Ethiopian medical professionals. MCM has both Ethiopian and foreign medical professionals who are motivated and committed to caring for the medical needs of patients.

“We aim to produce many Ethiopian specialists who will help Ethiopia to be no longer regarded as a medically underserved country. Through all these efforts, our wish and desire is contribute to the progress of Ethiopians”, said ambassador Dho Yung-shim. Dho has been playing a frontline role in tourism on a global level for the past four decades. She worked extensively within the UN and UNWTO for over twenty years.

Ambassador Dho and her running mate Carlos Vogeler issued an appeal to ministers of tourism voting at the upcoming  executive council meeting in Madrid on May 12.


In just a matter of days, one of the most important decisions for the future of global tourism will be taken at the 105th session of the UNWTO Executive Council. May 12th, 2017 is when 33 Executive Council Members will propose a successor to Dr.Taleb Rifai as the next UNWTO Secretary General. This recommendation cannot be taken lightly – there is too much at stake. Starting from day 1 of taking office, the new Secretary General must build on the invaluable work of Dr Rifai, maintaining and enhancing the support and cooperation achieved with governments, businesses, accademia, the UN system, other International Organisations, NGOs, and travellers worldwide.

As you yourself know, the role of tourism in global development – poverty alleviation, sustainability, unity, inclusivity, peace and stability – is too important for leadership risk-taking. Making the right choice demands focus on candidate vision, credentials and character. The world of tourism depends on it. By choosing us the Secretariat of the UNWTO will be headed for the first time by a woman, and by someone from Asia, the second region of the world by its tourist activity after Europe, which has held the post of Secretary-General on three out of five occasions.

From the outset of our candidacy, we are very grateful to you for having listened to our approach to the next leadership of the Organisation, which offers a combination of stability and renovation. Together, we will respectfully and responsibly build on the legacy received, injecting an enhanced level of energy and strategic mobilisation to take the Organisation to new heights.

Importantly, the fact that we both come from the G20 and the OECD economically advanced countries – the Republic of Korea and Spain – enhances our ability to strengthen UNWTO membership, bringing back to the UNWTO the industrialized countries that are currently distant from the organisation or even those that were never with us.

Our candidacy as a team “ticket”, a woman and a man of different, yet complementary professional paths and accomplishments in the tourism sector, and from two regions of the world distant from each other, yet clearly determined to work together, is unique. Our combination is a perfect fit as a team, and our experience with UNWTO will ensure our effectiveness from day one. Over the past twenty years we both have been intimately associated to the Organisation, both externally and internally.

Our partnership reflects our vision: one of a strong, delivery-focused UNWTO, championing global Tourism as a key enabler to fulfilment of the greater global growth agenda. Our immediate priorities will be:




To strengthen the research capacity of the Organisation producing a wealth of studies for advocacy purposes, including:

 The Executive Council’s choice identification and proposal of the next Secretary General of the UNWTO needs to focus on competence in Tourism, for Tourism. The future of the UNWTO and wider UN system’s ability to utilize Tourism as a critical tool for development of nations, as well as fulfillment of the SDGs, depends on the Executive Council Members choosing carefully and responsibly the most capable and experienced leadership.

Together we must ensure it is a future defined by leadership before leaders.

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