As the leading international organisation in the field of travel and tourism, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) is vested by the United Nations with a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, with the aim of contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms. In pursuing this aim, the WTO pays particular attention to the interests of the developing countries in the field of tourism. Acting as an umbrella organisation for world tourism, WTO plays a catalytic role in promoting technology transfers and international co-operation, in stimulating and developing public-private sector partnerships and in encouraging 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 at the same time minimising its negative social and environmental impacts. Through tourism, WTO aims at stimulating economic growth and job creation, providing incentives for protecting the environment and cultural heritage and promoting peace, prosperity and respect for human rights. In 2003 its membership reached 141 countries, seven territories and some 350 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.