Over 400 participants from around the world attended the second Sustainable Destinations Summit, organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in collaboration with the Government of Mallorca, Consell de Mallorca and the Mallorca Tourism Foundation on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
According to a press statement by the UNWTO, leading experts, organisations, and companies came together to share best practices and perspectives on environmental, social, and economic sustainability in travel destinations. The Summit placed a strong emphasis on tourism as a force for good, with momentum growing towards a future that is regenerative and beneficial to nature. This year’s event featured the most recent advancements in sustainability for travel destinations, says UNWTO.
The statement adds that the 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 recounted by Pedro Duque, the first ever Spanish astronaut.
“Sustainability is a shared will of Mallorcan society and the axis that marks all the policies of the Consell. 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,” Catalina Cladera, the President of Mallorca Government, said at the opening of the summit.
“Transition of the sector into a force for good has a positive impact on the Sustainable Development Agenda and our shared global challenges. 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,” said Zoritsa Urosevic, UNWTO Executive Director in her keynote address.
The statement says that 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, was one of the key sustainability-related activities that UNWTO provided updates on during the two-day Summit. Both the Food Waste Programme and the World Tourism Plastics Initiative were cited as powerful tools for driving this shift.
UNWTO adds that it has also made tourism data and destination management a central part of the conversation at the Summit. The impact of the industry on each of the three sustainability pillars will be closely monitored by the Measurement of Sustainable Tourism (MST) Framework and the International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO), which includes the Mallorca Observatory among its Members. This will allow for evidence-based and well-informed decision-making, says the organisation.
The statement says that representing the private sector, Maria Frontera, President of Mallorca´s Hotel Federation, (FEHM) 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 emphasised the importance of collaboration and circularity in transforming the sector. Additionally, Andreu Serra, Mallorca’s Minister for Transition, Tourism and Sports, President of FEHM María Frontera, Executive Director of ABTA Mark Tanzer, Director General of Turespaña Miguel Sanz, 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, says the statement.
It adds that Spain’s Secretary of State for Tourism Rosa Ana Morillo Rodrguez underlined the importance of sustainability for the country. She noted that Spain’s economy is largely driven by the tourism industry and emphasised the necessity for the industry to be resilient and competitive.