On the 5th – 7th of June 2019, the first edition of the Mediterranean Sustainable Tourism Convention 2019 held in Barcelona brought together 280 participants from 15 different countries. 62,5% of these participants were representing regional and local public authorities, higher education and research institutions.

The Mediterranean Sustainable Tourism Convention 2019, held in Barcelona on the 5th-7th of June, has been the occasion for the MED Sustainable Tourism Community to debate on different aspects of the tourist activity in the region. It promoted the encounter of the different territorial cooperation projects of this thematic community of the Interreg MED Programme with external actors and stakeholders of the tourism sector. As you can see in this video clip, they all participated in debates and study visits, bringing different stances in the broader view of rethinking the tourism sector’s contribution to a more sustainable and inclusive growth in the Mediterranean region.

Seeking to be consistent with sustainability principles, the Convention was organised following strict guidelines in choosing the venue, catering service and accomodation for the speakers and the CO2 emissions produced for the event and the speakers’ travels were compensated as indicated in the certification received.

Mr. Joan Josep Malràs, President of Arco Latino and lead partner of the BleuTourMed project (BTM) opened the Convention on June 5th, 2019 with a welcoming speech. Some addresses were then made by Ms. Maria Abellanet, CEO and General Manager of Group CETT, one of the co-organizers of the event; Ms. Lydwine Lafontaine, Project Officer Governance and Strategies of the Interreg MED Programme’s Joint Secretariat; Mr. Miquel Sàmper, President de l'Advocacia Catalana and Mr. Octavi Bono, Director of the Generalitat de Catalunya – currently holding the NECSTouR Presidency. The coordinator of the BleuTourMed project, Mr. Roberto Grassi, then provided for an overview of the achievements of the MED Sustainable Tourism Community together with Ms. Dora Papatheochari and Mr. Spyros Niavis, researchers at Panteion University and Ms. Nelly Bourlion, Programme officer at UNEP/MAP, Plan Bleu, all partners of the BTM project.

The conference’s first day featured a keynote speech by Mr. Xavier Font Aulet, Professor of Sustainability Marketing, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey, UK titled “The importance of sustainable tourism policies and actions based on evidence”. (The video is available here).

The first panel discussion of that day was dedicated to “Shaping sustainable tourism policies: views from the supranational level”. It aimed at evaluating what international organisations, most notably at European level, could and should do to promote the sustainability of tourism in the Mediterranean, where almost 300 million visitors generate 11% of the regional GDP. This issue has been tackled by Mr. Octavi Bono, Director of the Generalitat de Catalunya – currently holding the NECSTouR Presidency; Mr. Adam Bodor, Director of Eurovelo and Advocacy at the European Cyclists Federation and Vice-chair of Tourism Manifesto; Mr. Milosz Momot, Deputy Head of Unit Tourism, Emerging and Creative Industries at the European Commission; and Mr. Marcello Scalisi, Director of UNIMED – Mediterranean Universities Union.

A second panel discussion has been dedicated to “The implementation of sustainable tourism policies at territorial level”. Speakers addressed strategies and challenges faced by national and sub-national administrations to implement sustainable tourism policies. The panel discussion featured the contributions of Mr. Francesc Vila i Albet, General Manager of Tourism Department at the Barcelona Provincial Council; Ms. Manuela Bigi, Manager at the Economic promotion and Tourism department of the Tuscany Region and PANORAMED tourism expert; Ms. Magali Ferrand, Deputy director to Tourism and Thermal-tourism at the Région Occitanie and PANORAMED tourism expert, Ms. Blanca Belošević, Head of Department for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Tourism of Croatia and PANORAMED tourism expert and Ms. Elia Apostolopoulou, Head of the Department for Monitoring EU Projects at the Ministry of Tourism of Greece and PANORAMED tourism expert.

The second day of the Convention was structured in 4 parallel workshops focusing on the multilevel approach to be considered to promote sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean region.

1a : Labels and certifications to promote tourism sustainability

1b: Facing overtourism: challenges to sustainability, tourists’ experiences and local communities

2a: Data and knowledge-based management of tourist destinations

2b: Tourism multiple footprints: impacts on environment and communities

3a: The diversification of the tourism offer in the Mediterranean

3b: The involvement of the private sector in tourism sustainability

4a: Sustainable Mobility in Tourist Destinations: Meeting the Needs of Residents, Workers & Travelers

4b: Coastal and maritime tourism in the Blue Economy

Do not miss the galleries of the two days of Convention, June 5th, and June 6th, and the gallery of the study visits