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Improved economic conditions boost air-traveller numbers worldwide

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A record 4.1 billion passengers took to the skies in 2017 onboard some 37 million scheduled flights globally, the United Nations civil aviation agency reported Thursday, highlighting that the fastest growth was seen among low-cost carriers.

According to preliminary figures released by the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), air travel demand growth too gained “solid momentum” on the back of improved global economic conditions throughout the year.

The upward trend was driven by the strengthening investment in advanced economies as well as the recovery in emerging market and developing economies owing to the increased export demand,” said the UN agency.

It added that lower air fares owing to the low fuel price also continued to stimulate traffic growth, albeit at a more moderate level compared to 2016.

In terms of geographic distribution, Europe remained as the largest international market (37 per cent of the global total), recording a strong 8.1 per cent growth over the previous year. Asia-Pacific came in second with 29 per cent and growth of 9.6 per cent over 2016.

North America accounted for a 13 per cent global share, and demonstrated but notched up the slowest growth as a region (4.9 per cent over 2016).

The Latin America and the Caribbean region bagged 4 per cent of the international traffic and saw the largest improvement among all regions at 10 per cent. Africa had the smallest traffic share three per cent, grew slightly faster than last year at 7.6.

Low-cost carriers and air cargo post strong numbers

The ICAO news release also reveals that low-cost carriers consistently grew at a faster pace compared to the world average growth, carrying an estimated 1.2 billion passengers and accounting for approximately 30 per cent of the world total scheduled passengers.

At the same time, bolstered by improving global economic conditions and world trade, air cargo demonstrated a strong rebound in 2017, recording a “robust” 9.5 per cent growth, a “significant improvement” from the 3.8 registered in 2016.

ICAO also reported that in 2017, average jet fuel prices increased by about 25 per cent compared to 2016 but remained significantly lower than the prices observed for the ten years prior to 2016.

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The Future of Mountain Tourism

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“The Future of Mountain Tourism” is the theme of the 4th edition of the UNWTO Euro-Asian Mountain Tourism Conference (2-5 March 2019, Berchtesgaden, Germany). The conference will spotlight the significant opportunities to be seized and the challenges facing the development of mountain tourism.

The UNWTO Euro-Asian Mountain Tourism Conference is conceived to create a long-term and shared vision for mountain tourism. The upcoming fourth edition will bring together a wide variety of tourism professionals, ranging from managers of mountain tourism destinations, government officials, Destination Management Organizations and private sector representatives, infrastructure providers and the academia.

The conference will feature some 15 international speakers from Europe and Asia and will include a session on the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme and the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to align actors across sectors and borders on policies and actions.

The Bavarian Minister for Economics, Development and Energy, Hubert Aiwanger, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili ,  and the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Thomas Bareiss, will inaugurate the conference, alongside the Chief Executive of the Berchtesgaden District and host of the event, Georg Grabner.

A total of six panel debates and various thematic presentations, will provide the opportunity for participants to address themes such as the new tourist, the impact of demographic change, digitalization and mobility, tourism experiences for all four seasons, transnational cooperation and the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals, among others.

The conference is organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Berchtesgadener Land Region, with the support of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany.

This edition follows the conferences held in Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea and Georgia over the past decade.

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New UNWTO Report on Walking Tourism

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The report “Walking Tourism – Promoting Regional Development” showcases examples of walking tourism which can serve as a practical reference for destinations looking into the role of walking tourism for their own regional development.

Walking tourism is now one of the most popular ways to experience a destination. It allows tourists to better engage with the local population, nature and culture. It also meets the growing demand for outdoor activities in general. Walking tourism can be developed anywhere as an offer of sustainable tourism with a relatively small investment yet high social and economic returns for residents and tourists alike, if properly developed and managed.

This report by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) underscores the role of partnerships and the involvement and support of local stakeholders in the development and maintenance of walking tourism for regional development, considering that residents and tourists end up sharing common goods and this might give ground for potential conflicts. Therefore, access to training and inclusion of the local population in the tourism value chain is needed in order to seize new business opportunities for regional development.

Increasing consumer demand for “experiencing” a destination in an authentic way and the growing popularity of active tourism make walking tourism more and more relevant beyond walking activities, showcasing a destination as a whole including its local culture and nature.

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San Sebastian will host the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) have signed the Agreement for the holding of the 5th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism (San Sebastian, Spain 2-3 May 2019). The new edition of this global forum is supported by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Spain, the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the City of San Sebastián.

Job creation and the promotion of entrepreneurship will be this year’s special focus, in line with the 2019 UNWTO Year of Education, Skills and Jobs, closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The forum will bring together Ministers of Tourism, representatives from National and Local Tourism Administrations, chefs, entrepreneurs, academia and related stakeholders from tourism and gastronomy to discuss latest trends and to share experience.

The event will see the announcement of the winner of the First Gastronomy Tourism Start-up Competition. The competition, organized by UNWTO and the BCC, will bring five finalists to San Sebastian.

“Tourism is a huge source of employment and its multiplier effect has a knock-on effect on other sectors, such as gastronomy and its huge value chain involving several sectors”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

“We are especially proud to be co-organizers of the 5th UNWTO World Forum of Gastronomy Tourism. An edition that returns to San Sebastian and that grows exponentially thanks to the support of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Spain, the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the City of Donostia. Tourism today is a sector closely linked to gastronomy. At the Basque Culinary Center, we promote knowledge through training in both sectors and work to create an ecosystem that stimulates entrepreneurship and ensures quality employment”, underlined Joxe Mari Aizega, Director, Basque Culinary Center.

Policy framework for the development of gastronomy tourism and its capacity to create jobs and promote entrepreneurship, future skills, as well as ways to support SMEs and entrepreneurships in gastronomy tourism will be addressed as well during the forum. The panel presentations will be complemented by working sessions giving all participants the opportunity to actively immerse, interact and share ideas.

The event will close with a Masterclass by the Basque Culinary Center on how to develop competitive and sustainable gastronomy tourism in destinations.

The Forum has been held since 2015.The Basque Culinary Center hosts it every two years with the aim to promote the exchange the most relevant experiences between experts in tourism and gastronomy, to identify best practices and to promote gastronomy tourism as a contributor to sustainable development.

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