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Snow and Mountain Tourism faces the challenge of adapting to change

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The 10th World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism (Andorra, 21-23 March 2018) highlighted the need to adapt tourism accommodation to the expectations of today’s customers and to increase the quality of the traveller’s experience, while identifying knowledge management and hospitality culture as keys to success.

Organized jointly by the seven communes of the Principality, the Government of Andorra and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), this Congress constitutes a permanent forum for debate on the development and sustainability of tourism in mountain areas.

More than 400 participants attended the tenth edition of the Congress, including around thirty speakers from more than 16 countries and experts from Spain, the United States, Finland, France, Greece, Japan, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, among many others.

At the closing of the Congress, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stressed the importance for mountain destinations to not only provide responses to the changing demands of travellers, but also to cover areas that range from “the need to build infrastructure and sustainable accommodations, quality professional training, as well as combating seasonality and optimizing resources”.

As a conclusion of the discussions over three days, the experts highlighted aspects that should mark the roadmap to follow for this segment of international tourism:

The tourism sector came out of the crisis reaching a record number of tourists and tourism accommodation supply and is taking the necessary steps to cater to a customer profile that is increasingly more demanding and more experienced.

Digitalization and globalization have created tourists with habits and expectations that are very different from those of traditional visitors, thus requiring products to be adapted to changing expectations on the demand side.

Certain aspects on the supply side must continue to be improved, keeping in mind that the quality of the visitor’s experience should be the central axis of this evolution.

Being able to offer hotels, ski slopes and tourism facilities that satisfy tourists is just one of the aspects that guarantee the success of a mountain destination. But there are other factors involved, such as knowledge management, the quality of services and the culture of hospitality.

University training and experiences are applicable to tourism activity, and in this regard, observation and research studies in mountain destinations have helped develop sustainable environments.

New digital platforms must offer security and trust for both owners and guests.  In the area of accommodation regulations, Andorra presented its new legislation and highlighted its five objectives: respond to new customer behaviours, improve equity among groups of accommodations, reduce unlicensed operations and facilitate the regulation of illegal accommodation, and improve the quality and safety of visitors. In addition, Andorra has introduced online reputation for the first time as a new criterion for the classification of accommodation.

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Tourism

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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