All eyes are on the 2017 UN Year of Sustainable Tourism Development, and which better place to discuss the growing challenges of sustainability and city tourism than right in the heart of Barcelona.
Following the call of the Global Eco Forum organization – founded and presided by green economy expert Jérémie Fosse – tourism planners, managers, policy makers and advisors got together October 14th to discuss issues as diverse as overcrowding and urban livability, destination competitiveness, aviation growth and climate change.
Key takeaways from the conference:
- Unhealthy levels of overcrowding (overtourism) in major city destinations have changed sustainable tourism discourse, which is now about livability, resilience and city survival.
- Popular destinations need brand/experience managers, rather than marketing or promotion.
- Competitiveness means different things to different people.
- Success in tourism is still measured old-style, with number of overnight stays as a frequent indicator. More qualitative criteria are now needed, such as visitor perceptions.
- Both tourism as industry and world population will continue to grow, which means more visitors with more money to spend. City destinations in particular have no choice but to come up with measures to regulate number of tourist arrivals – for example through taxes, access restriction or reducing supply of accommodation.
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