Cities must invest to make the most of urban tourism
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) set out a vision for urban tourism that contributes to sustainable and inclusive cities at the 7th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism, held in Seoul, Republic of Korea recently.
Addressing the conference, Zurab Pololikashvili, the UNWTO’s secretary-general, said the vision of urban tourism for 2030 needed to be “inclusive, resilient, innovative and smart”.
The event was held in partnership with the Seoul Metropolitan Government and engaged 900 participants from 50 countries in how to build cities for both residents and tourists.
Key among the conference conclusions was that technology and innovation will play a key role in this vision, but only if cities invest in the right infrastructure and skills, set an enabling regulatory framework and break the silos that exist among data sources. Speakers also stressed the role that tourists themselves play in respecting the local communities, traditions and values of cities.
The conference was opened by Park Wonsoon, Mayor of Seoul, who stressed that “Seoul has improved its tourism because we have been able to predict changes in tourism, technology, society and environment to follow trends and react appropriately to challenges.”
Do Jonghwan, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, commended the summit for producing “an array of suggestions on cities’ function and role in tourism, the value and significance of cities to be shared with travellers, and how tourism can bring financial benefits with added values for residents.”
Memorable experiences were discussed at length as a major shift in motivation for tourists. Keynote speaker B. Joseph Pine II, author of the best-seller ‘The Experience Economy’, said: “Tourism is a top sector in the experience economy, which is now becoming the transformational economy – cities, to be competitive, need to be authentic and provide transformational experiences.”
The conference stressed that tourism can and should contribute to the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 11 on safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable cities.
For that, participants called for tourism to be included in urban governance; led by cooperation among public, private sector and civil society; planned and managed considering local community needs and benefits; and smart in using technology and innovation to promote authentic experiences, monitor tourism impact and promote dispersal policies to spread benefits to the whole city and manage congestion.
These four key areas of action will be taken forward to the 8th UNWTO Urban Tourism Summit, which will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan next year.