Around 500 participants from 90 countries are attending the 5th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in the Spanish city of San Sebastian (2-3 May), hosted by the Basque Culinary Center (BCC). This year’s event centers on the contribution of gastronomy tourism to job creation and to the promotion of entrepreneurship.
The UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism has been held since 2015, addressing the key issues advancing this specific tourism area and its benefits for destinations and communities. Organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Basque Culinary Center, the event is hosted every two years by the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastián.
The Forum was created with the aim of promoting the exchange of experiences between experts in tourism and gastronomy, to identify good practices and to promote gastronomy tourism as a factor of development of countries.
After being held twice in San Sebastián (2015 and 2017), in Peru (2016) and Thailand (2018), this event returns to its place of origin, firmly consolidated and with institutional support at all government levels: the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Spain, the Department of Tourism, Trade and Consumption of the Basque Government, the Department of Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the City of San Sebastian.
Job creation and the promotion of entrepreneurship are the central themes of the 5th Forum, in line with UNWTO’s special focus on Education, Skills and Jobs throughout 2019. As the UN agency promoting tourism for sustainable development, UNWTO positions tourism in the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2019 World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism has a direct link to SDG 8 which promotes “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.
Against this backdrop, policy framework for the development of gastronomy tourism and its capacity to create jobs and promote entrepreneurship, future skills, as well as ways to support SMEs and entrepreneurships in gastronomy tourism are some of the topics addressed during the two-day gathering. The panel sessions are complemented by technical visits in the Basque Country to destinations showcasing the topics addressed during the Forum and providing an opportunity for participants to actively immerse, interact and share ideas.
“Gastronomy tourism is an opportunity to promote local economic growth and fight against depopulation. It is a means to include many layers of society in development. The broad spectrum of gastronomy tourism makes it an ally for social inclusion. It has a particular potential to economically empower the most vulnerable groups, such as women, youth, indigenous and rural communities”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
The Director of the Basque Culinary Center, Mr. Joxe Mari Aizega, underscored the importance of adequately training professionals and developing the necessary skills, as well as attracting and retaining talent. This is a key challenge, considering that “gastronomy has become a strategic sector for many countries, contributing to the generation of wealth and employment, creating value along all its levels, and promoting countries and destinations”.
During the Forum, the runner ups from the First UNWTO Gastronomy Tourism Start-up Competition present their projects (Dinify, Czech Republic; Bitemojo, Israel; ARb, Italy; Ginkan, Japan; Arthylen, Spain) for the final decision of the winner.
This edition serves as a backdrop to launch the UNWTO/BCC Guidelines for the Development of Gastronomy Tourism.
The 6th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism will take place Bruges, Belgium from 1-3 June 2020.