Mountain tourism: UNWTO congress to explore innovative solutions for sustainable sector
– Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition Returns
Mountain tourism is a type of tourism activity, which takes place in a defined and limited geographical space such as hills or mountains. Encompassing a broad range of outdoor leisure and sports activities, it has distinctive characteristics and attributes that are inherent to a specific landscape, topography, climate, biodiversity (flora and fauna) and the local community.
Experts are of the opinion that rural and mountain tourism has a high potential to stimulate local economic growth and social change because of its complementarity with other economic activities, its contribution to GDP and job creation, and it’s capacity to promote the dispersal of demand in time (fight seasonality) and along with a wider territory.
Ahead of this year’s World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism, World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Government of Andorra and the Parish of Canillo have announced that the even will open on March 11 and run through 13, in Andorra, under the theme, Tourism, Innovation, and Sustainability.
Within the framework of the Year of Tourism and Rural Development that the UNWTO is celebrating in 2020, the Congress will focus on the role of mountain tourism in rural development, mainly addressing the issues of innovation, sustainability and digital transformation.
UNWTO Executive Director Manuel Butler highlighted the timeliness of the theme of the 11th Congress: “Sustainability is essential for tourism to be compatible with the fragile environment of mountain areas, while providing benefits and opportunities to communities, which gives a key role to innovation to harmonize these objectives.”
For her part, Andorra’s Minister of Tourism, Verònica Canals, underlined, “The integration of new technologies and the contribution to sustainable development are two key aspects for the tourism sector. Therefore, this year, Congress will try to share the perspectives of professionals regarding these challenges and will allow us to know the different models that companies and entities from around the world are creating.”
Through its high-level panels, keynote speeches, and thematic sessions, Congress will explore innovative solutions for sustainable tourism, sustainable consumption, local resources and products, inclusive tourism, and the development of responsible destinations.
The event will bring together a wide range of tourism professionals and experts from more than 10 countries (Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, United States).
Presiding over the inauguration of the 11th World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism will be Xavier Espot Zamora, Head of Government of Andorra, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, and Francesc Camp Torres, Mayor of Canillo.
The Congress was born as an initiative of the World Tourism Organisation, the Government of Andorra and the seven parishes that make up Andorra. Held every two years and organised by the parishes on a rotating basis, Congress has established itself as an enduring forum for discussion of the development and sustainability of tourism in mountain areas.
Meanwhile, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Basque Culinary Center have joined forces again for the second edition of the Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition.
After the success of the first edition, the competition has returned to identify and celebrate disruptive ideas and innovators, who will lead the transformation of the sector as well as those who are making a positive impact in their local communities.
In 2019, over 300 initiatives from 84 countries were submitted. Projects ranged from new technologies, community-based tourism development initiatives, innovation software, and startups focused on innovation-driven agricultural sustainability. All of them help contribute to the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For this second edition and with the support of the TUI Care Foundation, there will be two prizes. The first category will identify the initiative that is both innovative and has a sustainable social impact. The winning project will receive expert support from Basque Culinary Center (the Culinary Action! initiative) and from UNWTO. The project will be showcased at the 6th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy. As well as receiving help in creating a work plan for the design or implementation of a pilot project, the winner will also have access to the Culinary Action! network, which offers mentoring, monitoring and the opportunity to scale-up the project using the latest digital tools available.
The other category will recognise the most disruptive gastronomy tourism startup overall. The winning company will design a pilot project alongside Basque Culinary Center and implement it with the help of its network. It will also receive economic support to cover the expenses of the acceleration process with Culinary Action!, as well as accommodation and travel, for up to 3.000 euros.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “With this competition we are identifying key companies which will shape the future for food and travel. Gastronomy continues to prove its potential as a vital opportunity to enrich the tourism offer and stimulate economic development in destinations all around the world, especially in rural communities, with the potential to scale on a global level.”
Competition co-founder, Basque Culinary Center Director Joxe Mari Aizega added, “This competition allows us to identify and support entrepreneurial talent in gastronomy. There are entrepreneurs in different parts of the world who are promoting new initiatives that take advantage of the potential of gastronomy and tourism. Likewise, it allows us to provide training and to offer tools to help entrepreneurs to develop projects with the potential to transform and have a positive impact on both companies and destinations, promoting gastronomic tourism as a tool to guarantee the sustainability of the destination.”
The call for proposals for the and UNWTO and Basque Culinary Center’s Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition has been launched worldwide and will close on April 6. The finalists of the Startups category and the winners of the Social Innovation Category will be announced on May 4, 2020.
The Startups category winner winning startup will be announced between June 1 and 3, during the 6th Edition World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism to be held in Flanders, Belgium.