Youths issue call to action for future of tourism at global summit

People, Planet and Prosperity are the pillars of the document that closed the first Global Youth Tourism Summit

Giada Zampano   | 05.07.2022
Youths issue call to action for future of tourism at global summit FILE PHOTO


Youths from over 50 countries issued a call to action at the first Global Youth Tourism Summit, held in the southern Italian city of Sorrento, promoting a groundbreaking vision for young people to be active participants in tourism’s restart and growth as a pillar of sustainable development.

The “Sorrento Call to Action” was adopted on July 3, the final day of the landmark summit, organized in its first edition by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) -- the specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for promoting responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism -- with the aim of developing a new platform to enhance youth empowerment in the tourism sector.

The call was signed by 120 participants from 57 countries aged between 12 and 18 based on the discussions of a series of webinars where young participants learned and shared their thoughts on some of the key issues facing tourism: innovation and digitalization, plastic pollution, and the growing relevance of sport, culture and gastronomy for destinations.

“The Global Youth Tourism Summit is a hugely important first, for UNWTO and for our sector, and that young talent from every region will be supported to give them a stage to voice their ideas about tourism’s future,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

Italy’s Minister for Tourism, Massimo Garavaglia, said Italy was the proud host of this first-ever event and encouraged the young participants to become the responsible travelers of tomorrow and to maintain their optimism for making their dreams a reality.

“Youths, the Z generation, are those who are defining the tourism of the future,” Garavaglia told Anadolu Agency in an interview. “They drive the decisions of their families and they are tourists themselves.”

“The key thing, for whoever operates in the sector, is trying to understand what are their needs, their desires, their vision of the tourism of the future, because they are the future.”

Participants stressed that the document signed in Sorrento goes beyond recognizing that the voice of youth must be consulted in policymaking, stating that young people need to become active participants in every stage of the decision-making process across the whole tourism sector.

People, planet and prosperity

The Sorrento Call to Action is based on three pillars: People, Planet and Prosperity.

For people, the young signatories called for the safeguarding of human rights, especially of persons with disabilities, through adequate tourism strategies and policies. For the planet, the issues of food waste, plastic pollution, climate change mitigation and biodiversity preservation were flagged. Finally, prosperity, poverty reduction, upgrading digital skills, and creating more employment opportunities were voiced by the young participants.

The document also calls on the UNWTO to hold annual summits and to work with its member states on national events.

Garavaglia noted the central role of sustainability in the future of tourism, saying “it has to be considered in a comprehensive way because it’s not fashion but a modality on which we base our choices.”

Roberta Garibaldi, head of the Italian National Tourism Agency – one of the organizers of the Sorrento summit – told Anadolu Agency that “Generation Z” tourists represent about 14% of the reservations on the Italian market for this summer.

“If we look abroad, we are the second country in Europe after France most popular among youths,” she added, noting that they are an important basin for the next generation.

Garibaldi also said that sustainability has become a fundamental driver of touristic development.

“It is considered relevant not only from an economic and environmental point of view but also on the social side.”

Addressing the changes in tourists’ approach after the coronavirus pandemic – which dramatically hit tourism worldwide -- Garibaldi said that “tourists are now more focused on their needs, looking for health and well-being in addition to entertainment.”

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