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San Sebastián to Take World Gastronomy Tourism Spotlight in May

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It was announced today that Donostia will host the 5th edition of the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism, a forum organized by the UNWTO and the BCC, an Affiliate Member of the UNWTO.

The event, which grows exponentially this year 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 San Sebastián, will be held at the Kursaal Congress Centre on 2-3 May 2019.

This UNWTO Forum has been held since 2015 and is hosted by the BCC every two years. The central theme of this edition will be job creation and the promotion of entrepreneurship in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This stems from the fact that tourism is a huge source of employment and its multiplier effect has a knock-on effect on other sectors, such as gastronomy.

Objective of the Forum

The selection of San Sebastián as the venue for the Forum for a third year confirms the international success of its efforts to feature high-quality gastronomy tourism offerings. A series of presentations by experts from different disciplines and countries will address the current and future knowledge and skills demanded by the gastronomy tourism sector. 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 regard, during the Forum, the winner of the First Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition will be announced. The Competition is an initiative of the UNWTO and BCC whose objective is to identify innovation projects that will transform the Gastronomy Tourism sector in the near future.

In addition to shedding light on the competencies needed to meet the demands of gastro-tourists, the Forum will also foster the creation of environments that stimulate entrepreneurship, connect startups and better integrate disadvantaged groups in the labour market. In addition, topics such as the digitalization of the sector will also have a place in the Forum programme, which will analyse the new opportunities it offers to companies.

The UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism was created with the aim of promoting the exchange of experiences between experts in tourism and gastronomy, to identify good practices and to promote gastronomy tourism as a factor of development of countries. In recent years, gastronomy has become an essential element in order to get to know the culture and way of life of a place. After being held in San Sebastián twice, and subsequently in Peru and Thailand, it returns to its place of origin, now more consolidated and with greater institutional support than ever.

San Sebastián at the centre of world gastronomy tourism in May

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, highlighted the ability of gastronomy tourism to contribute to the creation of employment and new opportunities throughout the territory as well as to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Gastronomy tourism is culture and the soul of a destination. By supporting innovation, job creation and entrepreneurship, we are promoting development by valuing its culture and its people.”

Joxe Mari Aizega, General Manager of the Basque Culinary Center, pointed out: “Gastronomy tourism promotes local culture and products and is a source of employment and economic development. To ensure quality employment in the sector, we must take into account its main actors, we must promote knowledge through training and we must create an ecosystem that stimulates entrepreneurship, considering also the new opportunities offered by digitalization. Today, tourism is fundamental for gastronomy.”

In the words of Isabel María Oliver, Secretary of State for Tourism of the Government of Spain: “Gastronomy favours local economic development and sustainability while maintaining traditions and preserving the authenticity of our destinations, and is, in addition, a de-seasonalizing factor.  This is why, at the State Secretariat for Tourism we are working to further promote Spanish gastronomic heritage as an essential part of the Spain’s tourism offerings.”

Alfredo Retortillo, Councillor for Tourism, Trade and Consumer Affairs of the Basque Government, underlined: “Gastronomy tourism is not merely about food, but rather it encompasses a multitude of cultural practices and incorporates ethical values and sustainability. Enjoying it also means getting to know and savouring the landscape, the history of the country, the values and the cultural heritage of the tourism destination. And, undoubtedly, food and wine are among the great attractions offered by the Basque Country.”

The Deputy for Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, Denis Itxaso, for his part, said: “Being a global leader among gastronomy destinations requires commitment to being at this type of events, where the top chefs and the best practices of gastronomy tourism come together, and being open to discovering new and good experiences, and to creating a fusion between our traditions and techniques and those of others. That gives the Basque cuisine a cosmopolitan character and adaptability, two fundamental characteristics when we talk about tourism markets.”

In the words of Ernesto Gasco, First Vice-Mayor of the San Sebastián: “The World Tourism Organization’s choice to hold its Gastronomy Forum in San Sebastián reaffirms the international positioning of our city in the world of gastronomy. Our chefs, who once again have recently revalidated their constellation of Michelin stars, the quality of our products and kitchens, and our pintxos, rated as the best gastronomic experience in the world by users of a popular travel page… attest to the position San Sebastián occupies in the world of gastronomy. All this is complemented by the important work carried out by the Basque Culinary Center and the international platform represented by the San Sebastián Gastronomika event. We are, without a doubt, an epicentre of gastronomy. This event is another step forward, a definitive endorsement for San Sebastián and its prestigious cuisine to be known all over the world”.

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Tourism

UNWTO and NEOM Launch ‘Tourism Experiences of the Future’ Challenge

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The ‘Tourism Experiences of the Future’ challenge will source innovative ideas and disruptive business models related to the tourism needs of the future, in line with growing demand for new experiences. All proposals must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and should include the introduction or adaptation of digital and technological elements, as well as being focused at least one of the following areas:

  • Optimizing and maximizing the potential of experiential tourism
  • Harnessing the positive impact of new technology
  • Alternative business models
  • Innovative experiences

The competition is the first national initiative dedicated to identifying new companies that will lead the tourism sector’s transformation in Saudi Arabia. As well as established businesses, the competition also welcomes applications from Saudi Arabian start-ups and innovators with ideas capable of revolutionizing and inspiring tourists by presenting new ways and reasons to travel.

Applications are open until 2 November, with great interest expected, and participants must be Saudi citizens with legal capacity to enter into a contract. Successful projects will be selected based on various criteria, such as the degree of innovation, their viability and sustainability.

An Affiliate Member of UNWTO since 2019, NEOM is an accelerator of human progress and a vision of what a new future might look like. Located in northwest Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea, NEOM is ideally situated at the crossroads of the world, comprising a total area of 26,500 km². A special authority has been established to oversee NEOM, chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

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Time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism

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Tourism “touches almost every part of our economies and societies”, enabling the historically marginalized, and “those at risk of being left behind, to benefit from development”, declared UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday, marking World Tourism Day.  

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism could result in a more than $4 trillion loss to the global economy, according to a recent report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

Emergency for developing countries 

Highlighting the fact that in the first months of this year, “international tourist arrivals decreased by a staggering 95 per cent in parts of the world”, Mr. Guterres said that tourism continues to suffer enormously due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“This is a major shock for developed economies, but for developing countries, it is an emergency”, he added.  

“Climate change is also severely affecting many major tourist destinations, particularly Small Island Developing States”, his message added. There, tourism accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all economic activity.  

Tourism for inclusive growth 

Acknowledging that many millions of livelihoods are in jeopardy, Mr. Guterres said that now it is “time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism”. 

“With the right safeguards in place, the tourism sector can provide decent jobs, helping to build resilient, sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive economies and societies that work for everyone”, he added. 

According to the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism (UNWTO), tourism is a recognized pillar of most the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), particularly Goals 1 (poverty-elimination), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (to reduce inequalities). 

In his message, Mr. Guterres went on to call for targeted action and investment, towards green and sustainable tourism, “with high emitting sectors, including air and sea transport and hospitality, moving towards carbon neutrality”.  

Adding that everybody should have a say in how tourism shapes the future of our societies, the UN chief concluded that “only through inclusive decision-making can we ensure inclusive, sustainable growth, deliver on the promise of the SDGs, and transform tourism to fulfil its potential”. 

The sector could then become “an engine for prosperity, a vehicle for integration, a means to protect our planet and biodiversity, and an agent of cultural understanding between peoples”, said Mr. Guterres. 

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Africa’s Tourism Leaders Identify Investments as Key to Sustainable Recovery

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The African Members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have met in Cabo Verde to strengthen their cooperation and advance plans for recovery and sustainable growth.

The 64th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) saw 23 countries represented on the island of Sal, with 21 Ministers of Tourism joining five Ambassadors for the high-level event. Opening the Commission meeting, the President of Cabo Verde Jorge Carlos Fonseca offered a warm welcome to UNWTO’s leadership and to all delegates. The President was joined by Cabo Verde’s Minister of Tourism and Transport, Carlos Jorge Duarte Santos, and Prime Minister Dr. Ulisses Correia e Silva in reaffirming support of the highest political level for tourism and recognition of the sector as a driver of recovery and sustainable development.

Chaired by Christine Kaseba Sata, Ambassador of Zambia to Spain and Permanent Representative to UNWTO, delegates addressed the biggest challenges standing in the way of the sector’s safe restart across the continent. Special emphasis was placed on the importance of speeding up vaccine rollouts across the continent, as well as addressing security issues that continue to have an impact on how global travellers perceive Africa as a safe tourism destination. Also on the agenda was the current level of connectivity between destinations, with improved air links the harmonization of travel protocols identified as an effective means for boosting regional tourism.

Tourism’s restart ‘essential’

Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili welcomed delegates to the Commission meeting, providing an overview of UNWTO’s work during the ongoing crisis and how this is driven by the stated priorities of its African Member States. He said. “The continent is united in its determination to use the power of tourism to drive development and opportunity for all. And with coordination and targeted investments, African tourism can finally fulfil its unique potential.”

Rebuilding trust in travel

In Cabo Verde, UNWTO Members were brought up-to-date on the development of the International Code for the Protection of Tourists, a landmark code aimed at helping restore confidence in travel. Members were also presented with an overview of the UNWTO General Programme of Work & Budget for the Period 2022-2023. Additionally, signalling a shared determination to keep moving forward even in challenging times, Members also held elections for key positions within UNWTO decision-making bodies ahead of the 24th General Assembly.

Building capacity

Running in parallel with the Commission meeting, UNWTO hosted capacity building workshops on innovation, digital marketing and investment These workshops were held ahead of the second edition of the UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum, opened by Prime Minister Dr. Ulisses Correia e Silva and featuring the participation of investors from Spain, Germany, Switzerland and the USA as well as public and private sector leaders from across Africa. Backing up the workshop on marketing, UNWTO also launched its new Brand Africa publication. Produced with key African Tourism Partners, the publication aims at helping destinations use effective branding to diversify and attract visitors.

Also in Cabo Verde, tourism leader celebrated the signing and approval of the UNWTO Declaration on the Future of Mobility and Sustainable Transportation, a commitment aimed at the better understanding of how investments can help make the sector greener while also encouraging greater cooperation between tourism authorities and transport providers. Concluding the Regional Commission meeting, UNWTO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Cabo Verde. The aim of the MoU is to enhance cooperation between UNWTO and the Ministry of Tourism to strengthen the country’s branding, boost tourism education initiatives, and support research into the socio-economic impact of the sustainable development of tourism across Cabo Verde.

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