Europa Nostra contributes to High Level Forum for Sustainable Tourism held by the Portuguese Presidency of the EU

The ​​Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, under the coordination of the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transition, organised an High-​Level Forum for Sustainable Tourism on 14 May 2021. The Forum provided a platform for debate among various stakeholders from EU Member States on a medium to long-term strategic vision to address the concept of sustainable tourism that will feed the implementation of instruments like the EU Agenda for Tourism 2030-2050. The event was organised in a hybrid format around three thematic panel discussions on skills for better tourism, the digital transition and the green transition. Europa Nostra was proud to be the only cultural heritage organisation contributing to this Forum and therefore to be the voice of the heritage world in it.

Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic contributed to the panel discussion “Promoting the Green and Sustainable Transition in Territories and Regions”, together with representatives from the airline and railway industries, European mayors, tourism public bodies, as well as international and regional tourism organisations. The debate focused on the challenges of a green transition in the tourism sector, its role for territorial cohesion and social inclusion as well as the importance of new approaches in tourism to build a more sustainable post-pandemic future.

In her initial statement, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic reminded that “Tourism needs cultural heritage and cultural heritage needs tourism” and called for the EU Agenda for Tourism 2030-2050 to include special measures for the revival of cultural tourism, one of the largest and fastest growing tourism segments worldwide which accounts for 40% of all European tourism, according to Eurostat. “We shall recover from this crisis by using it as an opportunity to build back better and promote more innovative and sustainable forms of tourism, where cultural heritage can play a key role,” she added.

During the panel discussion, Europa Nostra Secretary General put forward four concrete proposals to achieve a more sustainable tourism landscape, notably by prioritising quality tourism over quantity through responsible, eco-friendly and slow tourism offers; by making destinations better places to live in and better places to visit, in the spirit of the Barcelona Declaration; by recognising that tourism is more than an industry and itself a cultural experience; and, finally, by creating an appropriate fora or platform where culture, heritage and social stakeholders can exchange with the tourism industry and economic actors. During the lively debate, speakers recognised the potential of culture and cultural heritage to underpin more meaningful and sustainable tourism experiences.

The conclusions reached during the panel discussions were presented in the closed EU Ministers’ meeting held in the same afternoon.

More information

Watch the video of the panel discussion and read the report of the Forum produced by the Portuguese Presidency of the EU

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