Tourism can play a vital role in promoting economic development, encouraging world peace and promoting environmental concerns, members of the National Tour Association were told Friday.

Rockwell A. Schnable, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for travel and tourism, in Salt Lake to address association conventioneers, also provided a strong endorsement for Utah's Winter Olympics bid.Tourism can no longer be considered a "frivolous" industry, Schnable said. Its $2 trillion impact on the world economy and the fact that 6.6 percent of worldwide sales of all goods and 13 percent of global service-sector sales are tied directly to the tourism industry shows the importance tourism has on the world economy. One of every 16 people in the world's work force is employed in the tourism industry, Schnable said.

In 1988, tourism generated business receipts of $323 billion in the United States and accounted for 5.42 million jobs and a $69.2 billion payroll.

Tourism is also a factor in reducing the national trade deficit, Schnable said, noting that 34 million foreign visitors pumped $37 billion dollars into the U.S. economy in 1988. He said such foreign spending in the United States is viewed as foreign-export income and the United States will net a $1.2 billion surplus in this area.

And, as in other major industries, technological change is having a big effect on the tourism industry. These changes are affecting how the industry communicates, conducts business, promotes itself and even how services are provided, Schnable said.

Because of its effect, efforts are under way to develop a national tourism policy. A study focusing on rural tourism and how it can affect small business economic development was completed earlier this year and will be incorporated into the national policy. Schnable said such a policy will coordinate the many facets of the industry with other national concerns such as environmental protection, economic development and the implementation of foreign policy on a "person-to-person" basis.

Schnable, a member of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics Committee, said Utah should pursue the chance to host the Winter Olympics. He said hosting the Olympics would be very positive for Utah, its residents and business in general. He said it would foster state pride and bring people together in a common cause.

Gov. Norm Bangerter told the group that tourism has been a top priority in the state over the past five years. He said Utah has a very intensive tourism industry and he sees a definite tie between tourism and economic development. He said the Olympic opportunity would not only benefit ski resorts and Salt Lake area businesses, but also provide an opportunity to promote other areas of the state, including the five national parks.