The Director-General for Tourism of the Government of Catalonia, Marta Domènech i Tomàs, took part in the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), where she presented the National Commitment to Responsible Tourism. This year's Assembly was held from 16 to 20 October in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The director's participation gave international visibility to this Commitment by Catalonia.
The Assembly brings together a total of 154 states and 7 territories, including the top representatives of the organisation's member states, as well as world tourism leaders from the public and private sectors.
In her speech, Domènech highlighted the value of Catalan tourism and its future outlook, stressing that “the National Commitment to Responsible Tourism involves two hundred actors from both the public and private sectors and is adapted to the tourism of the new era, as well as to the model we want for the next 20 years”.
The Director-General for Tourism emphasised that “we already have specific initiatives as part of this commitment and these are based on a more sustainable tourism model from an environmental, economic, territorial and, above all, social perspective.In other words, fairer, more inclusive and with better working conditions, placing the well-being of people at the heart of the tourism strategy.”
Domènech made specific reference to the efficiency of water resources within the environmental aspect of the Commitment, mentioning that “we are working on a new line of direct funding in the form of grants, designed exclusively to improve water conservation and reuse in tourist establishments, and we have just launched a line of subsidised loans of 40 million euros to finance projects to improve and modernise tourist establishments, including, among other things, improvements in energy efficiency and, in particular, actions aimed at water management”.
She also linked geographically balanced tourism with culture and gastronomy as identifying features of the country as a whole, using the recent example of Catalonia being named World Region of Gastronomy for 2025. In her speech, Domènech concluded by stressing the importance of having tourism based on innovation: “we have to take strategic decisions based on metrics that consider not only tourist volume, but also sustainability.This will allow us to identify potential tourist areas with the capacity to grow, what resources they have and how we can showcase and equip them in order to increase their potential” she concluded.
The Director expressed her satisfaction at the fact that Catalonia “has presented an initiative such as the Commitment before the Plenary of the UNWTO Affiliate Members” in order to showcase a tourism model that “is becoming a benchmark for other countries around us”.
The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, Zurab Pololikashvili, for his part, emphasised that “in all countries and at all conferences we talk about sustainability, but it is the Catalan Commitment that details the exact steps that must be taken for the development of sustainable tourism”. Furthermore, the Secretary-General added that “Catalonia's Sustainability Development Plan, the result of a great deal of hard work, is a great example that any destination in the world could use, and at the UNWTO, we are committed to providing the means necessary to implement it”.
The World Tourism Organization is a United Nations agency and is responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism for all. It has more than 400 members representing the private sector, international organisations, educational institutions, associations and local authorities.