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3rd Global Summit on City Tourism: Looking for new paradigms

The 3rd Global Summit on City Tourism: New Paradigms in City Tourism Development debated what takes to build new paradigms in city tourism. The Summit focused on four keys areas: the changing environment, knowledge and technology, measurement and how to make city tourism benefit the city and its surroundings.

The ongoing urban and travel revolutions create a unique opportunity to make of city tourism a strong driver of smarter, more sustainable and inclusive cities. According to the conclusions of the 3rd Global Summit on City Tourism held in Barcelona, Spain, on 9-10 December, the new paradigms for city tourism must address key issues: community engagement, better research and data to guide planning and management, public-private partnerships, the creation of clusters and the streamline of technology, innovation and sustainability.

Tourism has become a central component of the economy, social life and the geography of many cities in the world and is ideally positioned to contribute to seize the opportunities stemming from urbanization. The 3rd Global Summit on City Tourism: New Paradigms in City Tourism Development debated what takes to build new paradigms in city tourism. The Summit focused on four keys areas: the changing environment, knowledge and technology, measurement and how to make city tourism benefit the city and its surroundings.

Participants stressed the need to develop products which are market driven and research based, alerting to the lack of research to properly measure city tourism, its impact and trends. Furthermore, participants highlighted the need to make a city enjoyable to all: citizens, tourists and investors and spread the benefits of city tourism to its surrounding thus multiplying its impact and managing congestion.

The development of clusters that engage public and private players from all sectors was pointed out as central to the new paradigm for city tourism development; a development that needs to be mindful of the fact that tourism is a policy instrument for social cohesion and cultural preservation, beyond its fundamental contribution as an economic activity. Participants also alerted to the need of discussing the new business models emerging within the so-called sharing economy and assess its integration into the planning and development of tourism.

Opening the event, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, stressed the importance of engaging local populations in the whole process of city tourism development “We should always keep in mind that tourism happens in a community and that a city that is not good for its citizens will never be a good tourism destination. A city that is good for its citizens is good for tourists; a city that is loved by its citizens will be loved by its visitors”.

Ms. Isabel Borrego, Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain, said “City Tourism is a priority for Spain as it is capable of delivering on two of our key strategic objectives: overcoming seasonality and increase average spending”.

The 3rd Global Summit on City Tourism: New Paradigms in City Tourism Development was organized by UNWTO, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain and Turisme Barcelona, with the collaboration of the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council and the Barcelona Provincial Council.

Spanish government endorses 2nd UNWTO International Conference on De-Seasonalisation in Torremolinos
Spanish Government, through its State Secretary for Tourism, has been included in the agreement signed between the UNWTO and the Municipality of Torremolinos, to host, in June 2015, the Second International Conference on Tourism De-seasonalisation of this specialised organisation of the United Nations.

In a ceremony in the UNWTO offices in Madrid, the State Secretary for Tourism, Isabel Borrego, the UNWTO General Secretary, Taleb Rifai, the Mayor of Torremolinos, Pedro Fernandez, and the Manager of the Palacio de Congresos, Luis Callejon, signed the four sided agreement to define organisational aspects for this important international conference in june 2015.

Fernandez Montes restated his gratitude to the UNWTO General Secretary for choosing Torremolinos for this important international conference, and to the Ministry of Tourism, in the person of its State Secretary; Isabel Borrego, by adhering the agreement.

The mayor referred to the seasonalisation as the main problem of tourism destinations, with seasons going from 6 to 3 months per year, generally matching summer. Tourists want good climates, so destinations with mild climates have an advantage over others which do not have them, and this is Torremolinos example, he pointed.

Our season lasts 8 months, and our yearly occupation goes from 70 to 90 %. Further being the Municipality with the largest tourism accommodation capacity in the Costa del Sol, makes it to value its true size, indicated Fernandez Montes. He however signaled as Achiles heel the months of November to February.

In his reply, the UNWTO General Secretary has had eloquent words of praise to the activity undergone by the Tourism state Secretary, one of the most active government agencies in Spain and the world, and also to Torremolinos, without which the story of tourism can not be remembered.

Rifai insisted that seasonalisation is one of the main problems marking, not only the Mediterranean region, but is also common to all regions in the world. We cannot tolerate to waste such a high percentage of our investments by not exploiting our tourism resources all year round, with the further risk to undervaluate our labor forces.

The State Secretary of Tourism, Isabel Borrego, expressed in the name of Spanish Government, her gratitude to the UNWTO for its location in Spain of different sectorial conferences on Religious, Culture and Urban Tourism, and the announcement of this new international conference on de-seasonalisation in Torremolinos. We cannot forget that seasonalisation is one of the most important challenges that Spain must resolve. We have had impressing results in 2013, that are being overcome in 2014, but we must continue fighting for our competitivity, our product diversity and the creation of new. Borrego has not doubted to qualify Torremolinos as the leading engine in our tourism sector.

The Manager of the Palacio de Congresos, Luis Callejon, mentioned his satisfaction for the opportunity to witness what he has qualified as a milestone in tourism history, relating Torremolinos to this Second International Conference on De-seasonalisation. Referring to this, he considered the municipality in the sixties to lead the conversion from artisanal tourism into the large world wide industry which it is nowadays. Torremolinos has been the core and tourist image of Spain for thwo decades, and was able in the nineties, to regain flight as the Phoenix bird.

Callejon showed assurance that work in Torremolinos will be a useful example to follow in the fight against seasonalisation, as he emphasized the convergence of organisations part of the agreement: Municipal authoritiy as the fundamental part, State authoritiy as necessary support, and international organisations to form between all of them a lobby of interests that will draw the governance of this industry, that not only has a past, and a present, also a magnificent future.

The agreement signed today is an extension of the one signed in November 28 between UNWTO and Torremolinos Municipality. Among other details, the agreement establishes the terms of coordination between entities -including the Foreign Affairs Ministry- for the arrival of the delegates from its countries of origin, visas (when needed), security of delegations, as well as the infrastructures and services necessary for UNWTO to celebrate the conference.

The work panels will meet on 1st and 2nd of june, and the conference will take place on the 3rd and 4th of June 2015, in the Palacio de Congresos, simultaneously with the X Travel Market EUROAL. The affiliate members of UNWTO in 162 countries are called to attend, as well as organisations, institutions and tourism companies – public and private.

Vicky Karantzavelou
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.