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Cultural Tourism Sustains Communities and Living Heritage

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The third cultural tourism conference (3-5 December) organized jointly between the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) concluded today in Istanbul, Turkey. Participants declared their support for cultural tourism as a driver for safeguarding living heritage, catalyzing creativity in cities, and spreading tourism’s socioeconomic benefits to all.

Organized with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey under the theme ‘for the Benefit of All’, the conference explored the potential of the tourism and culture partnership, along with new trends in technology and visitor management, to bring the widest range of benefits to visitors and host communities while safeguarding cultural values.

A key conclusion from the conference was the need for a clear and strong link between tourism, culture and local community stakeholders. Cultural tourism policies and strategies must consider the perspectives and interests of local communities, who can also assist governance bodies in balancing tourism development with heritage conservation and safeguarding. Channelling tourism revenues into cultural preservation and community development was identified as a key governance challenge.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca of Malta addressed the conference at its opening, reinforcing that: “In today’s world, tourism diplomacy is becoming more important to foster understanding, and culture is key to achieving this”.

UNESCO Deputy Director-General Xing Qu affirmed tourism’s essential role, stating: “Tourism provides a tremendous opportunity to support local economic development, while breaking down barriers between people. Harnessing creativity and technological innovation, as well as safeguarding heritage is essential for promoting responsible and sustainable tourism to support and unify communities for years to come.”

“Culture is one of the drivers of tourism growth, so protecting cultural heritage and promoting tourism for sustainable development are part of the same equation. That 30-plus ministers from around the world are gathered here proves the place of culture in tourism,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili opening the event.

These sentiments were echoed by Turkey’s culture and tourism minister Mehmet Ersoy. “The culture and tourism partnership provides a framework for public-private cooperation, education, investments and sustainability,” Minister Ersoy added.

In a debate moderated by the BBC’s Rajan Datar, the more than 30 ministers present concluded that tourism and culture are indivisible and must work together so that tourism does not suffocate cultural heritage and its benefits for visitors and locals. However, the main challenge is to spread cultural tourism’s attractiveness beyond established sites whilst managing large visitor numbers.

The first session of the conference focused on cultural tourism’s potential to help cities transform into more sustainable and creative environments and destinations. It ended in agreement that the creative and cultural sectors can strengthen and provide innovation in cultural tourism, forging links that turn tourism into a tool to safeguard tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

The second day of the event was given over to the twin influence of responsible tourism and technological advances in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. It was agreed that innovation should be strengthened for better management, promotion and preservation of heritage, as well as to make cultural tourism accessible to all.

During the event, five leading Turkish tourism companies signed the Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, boosting the efforts of Turkish industry leaders to ensure sustainable development of the sector.

The 3rd UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture will produce a declaration, to be made available soon, outlining the cross-sector commitment of all participants to reinforcing the tourism and culture partnership as an enabler for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations. The next edition of the conference is scheduled to take place in Kyoto, Japan in 2019.

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World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism to Analyse the Sector’s Potential

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The countdown begins for the 5th World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism to be held on 2 and 3 May in Donostia-San Sebastián, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC). International experts will analyse and discuss the influence and capacity of gastronomy tourism to create employment and promote entrepreneurship and how to increase its potential in the future.

Stimulating employment

The Forum will explore how the most favourable frameworks can be created in order to stimulate job creation and entrepreneurship throughout the gastronomy tourism value chain. In addition, the speakers will try to identify the most relevant skills for this type of tourism, which should foster synergies among emerging companies, promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups and take full account of digitalization. The event will bring together speakers and experts from all regions of the world, as well as internationally renowned Basque chefs such as Elena Arzak, who is a UNWTO Ambassador for Responsible Tourism and joint head chef of the restaurant Arzak, and Andoni Luis Aduriz.

In addition, the event will host the presentation of the UNWTO/BCC Guidelines for the Development of Gastronomy Tourism.

Sessions and startups

The forum will open with a high-level panel with ministers and secretaries of state from countries that have included gastronomy tourism as part of their strategies, such as Cyprus, Slovenia or Spain, among others. Under the theme, “Public policies as key ingredients to promote gastronomy tourism”, the participants will discuss the necessary political framework for the development of gastronomy tourism as well as its capacity to create jobs and promote entrepreneurship.

In addition to shedding light on the competencies needed to meet the demands of gastronomy tourists, the sessions will encourage the creation of environments that stimulate entrepreneurship, that connect emerging companies and better integrate disadvantaged groups in the labour market. Issues related to local communities or to under-represented groups, such as women, youth and persons with disabilities, will also be discussed. In addition, topics such as the digitalization of the sector will also be analysed in order to identify the new opportunities they offer to companies. In addition, the latest advances in the creation of the necessary framework to stimulate entrepreneurship will be presented, connecting the different ecosystems with the startups that are part of the value chain of gastronomy tourism.

In this context, the five finalist startups of the First Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition, organized by the UNWTO and the BCC, will present the most innovative projects in line with the UNWTO’s strategy and the contribution of gastronomy tourism to the sustainable development goals.

The programme of the Forum is complemented by nine visits that will allow the participants to take part in different experiences related to gastronomy in the Basque Country.

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The Future of Air Transport and Development in Africa

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The First Ministerial Conference on Air Transport and Tourism in Africa co-organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Government of Cabo Verde was held in Sal Island, Cabo Verde, attracting over 20 Ministers of Tourism, Transport and Aviation from Africa.

Within the framework of both the tourism and aviation sectors, the event focussed on bringing key players together to define a unified process for sustainable development. Amongst the topics discussed were proposals that would enable the African States to maximize and balance the benefits of tourism and aviation services throughout the region and obstacles that the region currently faces.

Opening the ceremony, H.E. Jorge Carlos Fonseca, President of Cabo Verde spoke of his nation’s difficulties facing his nation, placing particular emphasis on weakened infrastructure in Cabo Verde and an overall lack of coordination within the region; adding that: “This is a very serious obstacle to the goal of making Africa a tourism destination of excellence and the first choice for people from other continents.”

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili welcomed the joint event as two naturally connected sectors, stating “this symbiotic relationship is mutually reinforcing and interdependent. This is especially true for a small island developing state such as Cabo Verde, which is almost fully dependent on air transport access.” He added that “the recent agreement between Cabo Verde Airlines and IcelandAir is a step towards an Atlantic Hub based on the island of Sal. It allows the expansion of Cabo Verde Airlines while representing an efficient public-private partnership”.

Upon closing the event, the Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, H.E. Mr. Ulisses Correia e Silva, hailed the new focus on air transport and tourism as progress for the nation and stressed the importance of creating a framework for the development of air transport and tourism in Africa. The Prime Minister urged African authorities to join together to improve connectivity within the region.

The President of the ICAO Council, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, suggested that this unique joint event between the two organizations was long overdue and has been a testimony to the new dynamics that are taking shape between tourism and air transport in Africa.

The conference concluded with the approval and adoption of the Ministerial Declaration and Action Plan on Air Transport and Tourism Development in Africa by all ministers in attendance. The Declaration outlines the direction that the signing governments will take in order to advance innovative, sustainable solutions to foster the development of air connectivity and seamless travel in the African continent while building a common understanding and response to the business imperatives through strengthened dialogue between the two sectors.

The conference saw the participation of 300 participants, including 21 Ministers of Tourism, Transport, and Aviation from 34 Member States and 29 International organisations.

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Balearic Islands Poised to Become First Tourism Destination Developed Under 2030 Agenda

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Deploying new resources and actions for the progressive adaptation of the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera) to the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, is one of the main objectives of the agreement signed between the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the IMPULSA BALEARS Foundation. Its aim is to jumpstart the process of the strategic reformulation of tourism in order to make an effective contribution to sustainable development. 

The planning and execution of new projects focused on local sustainability taking into account the tourism production and consumption patterns of the Balearic Islands, close relations with regional actors, harnessing public-private synergies, and the generation of strategic knowledge on the part of the foundation, are among the key features of this cooperation with the UNWTO, as the United Nations agency responsible for promoting tourism as a vehicle for sustainable development.

The establishment of circular economy guidelines in the hotel sector of the Islands and the identification of best practices already being implemented in this regard are among the first initiatives of the agreement. The objectives are to establish a specific approach to the relationship between hotel activity and its surrounding environment, to obtain intelligence that facilitates decision-making in the implementation of responsible consumption and production measures in line with the 2030 Agenda, and to lay down a strategic framework to activate the network of companies in the sector and other stakeholders.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, and the President of IMPULSA BALEARS, Carmen Planas, will be in force until 31 December 2021.

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