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World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism: Job Creation, Entrepreneurship and Development

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) are co-organizing the 5th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism, on 2-3 May 2019 in San Sebastián, Spain. The Forum is supported by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain, the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the City Council of San Sebastián, a city that has hosted the Forum every other year since its first edition, in 2015.

The main content and objectives of the Forum were presented at a press conference at the UNWTO headquarters, presided by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, Spain’s Secretary of State for Tourism, Isabel Oliver, and the Director of the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), Joxe Mari Aizega. They were accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Trade of the Basque Government, Isabel Muela, the Deputy for Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports of Gipuzkoa, Denis Itxaso, and the First Vice-Mayor of the City of San Sebastián, Ernesto Gasco, representing the key partners for the holding of this international event.

Through the World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism, the UNWTO and the Basque Culinary Center aim to promote the exchange of experiences among tourism and gastronomy experts, and identify good practices. The objective is to promote gastronomy tourism as a factor for the sustainable development of countries, by virtue of its close links with local products and culture. Consequently, it is a driver of professional training, job creation, and community development. This focus is the reason behind the partnership between UNWTO and the Basque Culinary Center.

Thus, the 5th Forum will analyse the skills and knowledge that gastronomy tourism will require in the future and highlight gastronomy as one of the main motivations for travel. In addition, the event aims to identify favourable frameworks that promote entrepreneurship and the creation of ecosystems that, in turn, stimulate connections among emerging companies throughout the gastronomy tourism value chain. The Forum will also address the potential of gastronomy tourism to promote better inclusion of disadvantaged groups and raise the quality of work environments. It will address some of the main challenges facing the sector, such as the gender wage gap, the employment of persons with disabilities, youth unemployment and the problem of seasonality, among others.

Entrepreneurship and sustainable development

The Forum will serve as the setting for the announcement of the winning startup of the 1st Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition, launched with the support of Promperu. To date, the competition has attracted gastronomy tourism startups from 65 countries around the world, united by their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. The deadline for the submission of entries is 5 March 2019.

The winning startup will be invited to take part in the Culinary Action accelerator programme during the second semester of 2019, where it will benefit from the mentoring and advice of the network of experts of BCC Innovation, a workspace in LABe’s Digital Gastronomy Lab project incubator, and a grant of up to 5,000 euros to cover the cost of accommodation and travel during this period.

The five finalist startups will be announced on 1 April and will be invited to present their projects to the sector’s investors during the Forum, as well as at the Ibero-American Gastronomy Fair (Miami, USA, 9-11 May 2019).

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Regulation Catches up with Innovation: The Case of Short-Term Rentals

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has published the first systematic overview of how both national governments and local authorities are addressing and managing new business models in the accommodation industry. The so-called “sharing economy” has experienced significant growth over recent years and is poised to outpace the growth of traditional accommodation. Drawing on case studies from around the world, “New Business Models in the Accommodation Industry” analyses existing rules and regulations for the sector.

Drawing on 21 global case studies, the new UNWTO report notes that most of the measures implemented refer to areas of ‘fair competition’ and ‘consumer protection’, specifically measures related to taxation and registration and permits In comparison, measures relating to ‘planning and sustainability’, are less commonplace. At the same time, the report highlights the challenges destinations face in implementing rules and regulations, with a lack of local capacity and a lack of clarity over whose responsibility it is to monitor and regulate short-term tourist accommodation.

Commenting, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “There are significantly more regulations than we thought and it is encouraging to see destinations taking the initiative. However, many challenges remain, including the practical implementation of rules and regulations relating to the short-term tourist rental market. Good governance and effective cooperation between the public and private sectors are key to successfully meeting these challenges.”

Case studies analysed for the “New Business Models in the Accommodation Industry” include European countries such as the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, which are home to some of the world’s most popular cities for tourists, as well as countries in the Americas such as Mexico and from across Asia as is the case of Japan.

The report was produced with the support of the Secretariat of Tourism of Mexico.

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U.S. Moves Closer to World Tourism Organization with Landmark Meeting

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A high-level delegation from the United States Department of State has met with head of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as the country moves closer to rejoining the United Nations specialized agency for tourism.

Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Kevin Moley and Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh were welcomed by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, following up on the announcement that the USA is exploring rejoining UNWTO, of which it is a founding member. The two parties enjoyed productive discussions as the terms of membership are being finalized.

This is the highest level visit of a US delegation to the UNWTO headquarters registered so far. In June of this year, the United States used the occasion of the UNWTO Executive Council meeting to confirm it is exploring the possibility of rejoining, stating that “the UNWTO offers great potential to fuel economic growth in the U.S. tourism sector, create new jobs for American workers, and highlight American travel destinations”.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashili underscored that “it is extremely encouraging that the United States has clearly signaled its intention to rejoin UNWTO and support tourism as a key driver of job creation, investments and entrepreneurship and safeguarding natural and cultural heritage the world over”.

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ADB Starts Second Eco-Tourism Project for Mongolia’s National Parks

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Mongolia's Khuvsgul National Park and Onon-Balj National Park are eco-tourism priorities for the government, but as major sources of biodiversity, they need to be carefully managed. Photo: ADB

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Mongolia today wrapped up one successful eco-tourism project and embarked on a second project aimed to help Mongolia benefit from a boom in domestic and overseas tourists while safeguarding the environment.

Mongolia’s Deputy Speaker Mr. Enkh-Amgalan Luvsantseren, the Minister of Environment and Tourism Mr. Tserenbat Namsrai, and the Governor of Khuvsgul Province Mr. Ganbold Lkhagvasuren gave opening speeches at a final workshop for the Integrated Livelihoods Improvement and Sustainable Tourism in Khuvsgul Lake National Park Project. This was followed by an opening ceremony for the Sustainable Tourism Development Project. The workshop and opening ceremony also gathered local government officials, community members, experts, and ADB staff.

“Our projects aim to help develop the tourism sector in Mongolia to help diversify the economy and create jobs. But we want to ensure that is done sustainably so that local livelihoods and the often fragile environments are also protected for the long term,” said Mr. Mark Bezuijen, Senior Environment Specialist for ADB and the team leader of both projects.

The Integrated Livelihoods Improvement and Sustainable Tourism in Khuvsgul Lake National Park Project, funded with a $3 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, helped build local tourism activities, improve livestock and pasture management, and strengthen waste management around Khuvsgul Lake.

The $38 million in loans under the Sustainable Tourism Development Project will be used to build on the activities in Khuvsgul Lake and develop similar initiatives in Onon-Balj National Park, the birthplace of revered Mongolian leader Chinggis Khaan. This project marks the first loan in Mongolia to focus on tourism and protected area management, and will serve as models for economically inclusive development and conservation.

Mongolia’s small tourism sector is growing rapidly. In 2017, tourism generated $1.2 billion in earnings and employed 121,500 people. But by 2028, it is forecast to generate $2.1 billion and provide 149,000 jobs. Khuvsgul National Park and Onon-Balj National Park are eco-tourism priorities for the government, but as major sources of biodiversity, they need to be carefully managed. There will be a ceremony to open the project activities in Khentii province on 10 October.

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