Overview and Mission
How We Got Here
12 Years of putting
ideas into actions
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How many untapped opportunities for the Bottom Billion, those who live in extreme poverty?
One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is the main source of foreign exchange for one third of developing countries and one half of the Least Developed Countries, where it accounts for up to 40 per cent of GDP and up to 8% of the total exports.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 5% of the international arrivals in 2012 (33,8 million), with an increase of 5% compared to 2011 (6.3% for Africa).
The UNWTO ST-EP Foundation was established in 2004 in Seoul, Korea, as a cornerstone of the ST-EP (Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty) initiative of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) aimed to harness the power of tourism to generate new opportunities for development and empowerment in least developed and developing countries, and particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The core mission of the ST-EP Foundation is therefore to contribute to the reduction of poverty and inequalities, with a special focus on people living on less than a dollar a day, through the funding, implementation and promotion of projects and programs aimed at achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (UN MDGs) by 2015 and then UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) by 2030.
The ST-EP projects selected by the ST-EP Foundation’s Board of Directors cover a wide variety of activities, at local, regional and national levels. Separately, the ST-EP Foundation has secured extra funding for ST-EP projects implemented individually or through partnerships with SNV, the Netherlands Development Organization, IUCN NL, and the Travel Foundation; as well as other initiatives such as the UN MDGs Thank You Small Libraries, Millennium Villages as Tourism Destinations, the Discover Ghana Billboards Project (35 Regional Tourism Billboards), etc.
Designed by the ST-EP Foundation, the Millennium Village as Tourism Destinations project intends to provide new jobs, income and business opportunities to the populations of 14 Millennium Villages in 10 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, thus contributing to the achievement of UN MDGs & SDGs. It has been implemented since 2011, in partnership with Millennium Promise, through the sponsorship of the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Tourism of Korea.
Capacity-Building and Knowledge Exchange Programs
The capacity building and knowledge exchange programs of the ST-EP Foundation have benefitted hundreds of tourism professionals and government officials from African, ASEAN and Latin/Central American countries.
Meanwhile, the ST-EP Foundation has promoted the transfer of the Saemaul Movement experience while contributing to the globalization of this sustainable development model in Africa. Initiated in the 70s, this community-based movement has been the driving force behind Korea’s development from an aid recipient, to an aid donor country, The Saemaul Movement has its origins in the Province of Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea.
Promotion and Awareness-raising
The ST-EP Foundation has organized and participated in hundreds of international workshops, forums and conferences on tourism for development and poverty elimination, and other global issues such as education, environment, peace, sports and choir music for education, climate change, development assistance to Africa, Public Private Partnerships, etc.
As Chairperson of the ST-EP Foundation’s Board and UN MDGs Advocate, Amb. Dho Young-shim, attended several international conferences hosted by UNWTO and other specialized UN Agencies, international organizations, governments, etc., as speaker and panelist.

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