While tourism has enormous potential to contribute to development, it can only do so with adequate governance systems which empower people and communities – this was one of the main messages emerging from the UNWTO Algarve Forum (1-3 June, Vilamoura, Portugal). The Forum – intended to bridge theory and practice in tourism as an instrument for development and good governance – convened over 300 representatives from the private and public sector who were joined by prestigious academics to conclude several months of on-line discussion and establish a consensus on tourism strategies for the next decade and beyond.
“The world faces mounting changes and challenges which call for innovative strategies and policies. Governments, business and civil society need to devote attention to knowledge management in tourism, to better understand and act upon the forces shaping today’s world, especially on the critical issues of development, climate change and governance. We need to bring these players together in governance solutions; it’s possible and achievable,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the Forum.
On governance, the Forum stressed the significance of participation and efficiency. Institutions and stakeholders, whether in the public or private sector as well as those in civil society, need to take advantage of innovation, providing for the full use of networks and information-communication technologies. Cooperation and knowledge-based decisions are the basis of good governance.
The conclusions also highlighted the need to develop new indicators to measure the real effects of tourism on development and its impacts on climate change. These indicators should also provide for a better balance between the challenges of climate change and the use of tourism as an instrument for development.
The UNWTO Algarve Forum was organized by the UNWTO Knowledge Network with the able support of one of its most active members, the University of the Algarve. Participants agreed to establish a platform to carry forward the work initiated during the last few months within the UNWTO Knowledge Network and the Forum and build a community of knowledge on tourism; providing a framework of support for policy-making on development, governance and climate change goals. The results are to be translated into a set of guidelines and policy programmes known as the UNWTO Algarve Consensus.