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Sustainability, innovation, accessibility to take center stage at global tourism fair 2020


Scene from FITUR 2019

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) will place innovation and sustainability at the top of the agenda as it returns to the International Tourism Fair in Madrid (FITUR). At the 40th edition of the leading trade fair, the United Nations specialised agency will emphasise the global tourism sector’s enduring resilience and status as a beacon of stability in times of political, economic and social uncertainty.

At the start of the ‘Decade of Action’, the final push towards a achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, tourism has come of age as a driver of positive change. UNWTO Secretary-General Pololikashvili will outline UNWTO’s achievements to date and present UNWTO’s vision and plans for 2020 and beyond, including events set to take place during the current UNWTO Year of Rural Development and Tourism.

FITUR 2020 will see the world tourism body build on its presence at the recent COP25 UN Climate Conference, where it highlighted tourism’s unique and crosscutting ability to contribute to several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Meanwhile, on the eve of FITUR (Monday 20 January), UNWTO will host its annual News Conference, setting out its accomplishments to date as well as its vision for the future, both during the 2020 UNWTO Year of Tourism and Rural Development and beyond. Also at the News Conference, UNWTO will present the latest data on global tourism numbers and trends, its first such report of the new decade.

On the opening day of FITUR (22 January), UNWTO will launch the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, a landmark opportunity for tourism operators and destinations to establish themselves as global leaders in reducing plastic consumption and pollution. The initiative has already gained the support of major players within the sector.

Alongside the launch of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, UNWTO will also host the final of the second edition of its Tourism Startup Competition (20 January), identifying innovators, who are disrupting the sector and making tourism more closely aligned with the SDGs.

For the second straight year, the world tourism body has launched the world’s largest startup competition in tourism with the support of Wakalua, a global tourism innovation hub. This competition is part of several initiatives at UNWTO towards fostering a more competitive and more sustainable tourism sector. Here, experts will come and share their views on the future of the tourism sector and the top 16 selected startups will pitch their ideas and compete to win the final.

Additionally, alongside the ONCE Foundation, UNWTO will host its Accessibility Tourism Destination (ATDs) on January 22 to recognise destinations that are proactively opening themselves up to tourists of all abilities and backgrounds. Both organisations will join forces once again on the occasion of FITUR to spotlight good practices in accessible tourism from around the world.

At this year’s event, the first international recognitions Accessible Tourism Destination (ATD2019) will be awarded, commending all the good work of tourism destinations made accessible to everyone. During the event, the call for applications for the ATD2020 will be also announced, encouraging other destinations to apply and present their achievements. The event is targeting Destination Management Organizations (DMOs), local authorities, as well as other entities promoting accessible tourism and related policies.

Looking ahead to the event, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “For 40 years, FITUR has served as a key focal point for sector leaders, bringing the public and private sectors together to drive tourism forward. Now as we look to the future, I am confident that FITUR will once again produce ideas and concrete plans needed to ensure tourism can become an increasingly important part of the sustainable development agenda. As we begin 2030, the global community has just 10 years to realize our ambitious climate and development goals, and the tourism sector needs to face up to its large responsibility and recognize its unique power here.”

For the first time, on the evening before the start of FITUR, UNWTO will host a high-level Gala Dinner, with guests of honor to include His Majesty, King Felipe VI of Spain, heads of state and private sector leaders.


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