Global Travel News

UNWTO Shaping the Future of Sustainable Tourism

Palma de Mallorca, Mallorca, Spain, April 1, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / The Government of Mallorca, Consell de Mallorca, and the Mallorca Tourism Foundation and UNWTO have hosted the second edition of the Sustainable Destinations Summit, gathering leading experts, organizations and companies to share best practices and perspectives on environmental, social and economic sustainability in destinations.

The Summit emphasized tourism as a force for good, with momentum building towards a regenerative and nature-positive future. UNWTO and the Government of Mallorca welcomed more than 400 delegates at this year’s event, which showcased the latest developments in sustainability for destinations. Discussions highlighted the interdependence of tourism on natural and cultural resources and the potential mutual benefits, while also providing unique first hand perspectives such as from Chief Frank Antoine from the Bonaparte First Nation, or the view from outer space, as told by Pedro Duque, the first ever Spanish astronaut.

The President of Mallorca Government Ms. Catalina Cladera affirmed that “sustainability is a shared will of Mallorcan society and the axis that marks all the policies of the Consell”. Cladera pointed out that Mallorca and the rest of the islands in this community “are taking firm steps not only to continue being the reference destination in the Mediterranean, but also to lead the tourism of the future.”

In her keynote address, UNWTO Executive Director Ms. Zoritsa Urosevic emphasized the vital “transition of the sector into a force for good that has a positive impact on the Sustainable Development Agenda and our shared global challenges”. She added: “If managed well, tourism can be an agent for change, but such a transition towards a green, regenerative and nature-positive tourism sector is needed can be achieved in a collaborative manner.”

Big ambitions and big data

During the two-day Summit, UNWTO provided updates on several of its key sustainability-related activities, including the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism which has so far seen more than 800 businesses, destinations and governments commit to achieving a Net-Zero tourism sector by 2050 at the latest. The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and the Food Waste programme were similarly highlighted as effective instruments for accelerating this transition.

UNWTO also made tourism data and destination management a central part of the conversation at the Summit. The Measurement of Sustainable Tourism (MST) Framework and the International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO), which counts among its Members the Mallorca Observatory, will play a crucial role in monitoring the sector’s impact on all three sustainability pillars, enabling an evidence-based and informed decision-making.

Private sector importance

The Mallorca government, through its Tourism Foundation and the Sustainable Tourism Observatory, has established a public-private cooperative network across the island and works closely with UNWTO to advance shared goals.

Representing the private sector, Maria Frontera, President of FEHM, (Mallorca´s Hotel Federation) joined Carmen Riu Güell, owner of the RIU Hotels & Resorts chain, to discuss bridging generational perspectives in the pursuit of sustainable tourism development. The event also emphasized the importance of collaboration and circularity in transforming the sector. Additionally, Andreu Serra, Mallorca’s Minister for Transition, Tourism and Sports, the president of FEHM, María Frontera, Mark Tanzer, Executive Director of ABTA, Miguel Sanz, Director General of Turespaña, and Thomas Ellerbeck, Member of the Group Executive Council and Chief Sustainability Officer of TUI Group discussed how destinations committed to sustainability can find a balance between marketing and storytelling.

Closing the Summit, Mrs. Rosa Ana Morillo Rodríguez, Secretary of State for Tourism in Spain, emphasized the crucial role of sustainability for the nation during her closing statement. She acknowledged that tourism is one of the key sectors driving Spain’s economy and stressed the need for resilience and competitiveness within the sector