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UNWTO Allies with Spain to Face the Demographic Challenge

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photo: UNWTO

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) held today in Segovia, the forum “Facing the Demographic Challenge through Tourism and Innovation”, whose opening was attended by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez; Spain’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, María Reyes Maroto; the President of the Junta de Castilla y León, Juan Vicente Herrera; the Mayor of Segovia, Clara Isabel Luquero; and UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.

Tourism and innovation were highlighted as key solutions to address the depopulation being suffered by the rural environment at the forum entitled “Facing the Demographic Challenge through Tourism and Innovation” in Segovia, which gathered together more than one hundred people with the objective of finding solutions from the tourism sector to combat this phenomenon.

“The UNWTO wants to work alongside Spain to turn the discussion on the challenge of rural depopulation into a conversation about the opportunities that the rural environment represents,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, showing the United Nations agency’s  support in searching for solutions through tourism. He added: “The 2030 Agenda is committed to leaving no one behind, including rural areas and their inhabitants.”

Likewise, he pointed out that as a sector that represents one of every ten jobs in the world—in 2019, the UNWTO is dedicating the year especially to education, the development of professional skills and employment—quality training in tourism and innovation are very necessary to face these challenges and ensure the survival of the rural environment.

The Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, highlighted the efforts being made by the UNWTO and advocated the creation of opportunities in the interior regions of Spain through rural tourism, digital transformation and new models of economic activity. He announced that the Government would review the guidelines of the National Strategy to address the demographic challenge. He said that in the Strategy, “the tourism sector is a key driver”, adding that Spain is “a global power with a large margin for improvement in the interior of the country”, said Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain.

During the event, leading figures from the political, business and cultural spheres addressed the challenges posed by the gradual loss of population in rural areas. In addition, many experts in the field discussed the role of rural tourism as a tool for socio-economic revitalization, sustainability and territorial rebalancing.

Thus, the first round table, moderated by Asís Martín de Cabiedes, President of Europa Press, discussed on the challenges of overcoming the depopulation of rural areas in developed countries. For her part, Spain’s High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Cristina Gallach, moderated a second panel of experts focused on the relevance of the tourism sector for sustainability and territorial rebalancing.

Furthermore, various successful cases of public-private collaboration were analysed, with SEGITTUR providing insights in the field of smart destinations.

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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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