The inaugural Global Youth Tourism Summit has opened in the Italian coast city of Sorrento today, 28th June 2022. The event which is the first in the annals of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) aims to empower youth to take an active part in decision-making processes within the tourism sector.
The five-day summit will see participants undertake a series of international events, workshops, and other educational initiatives tailored for youth to share and discuss ideas and shape their visions for the future of sustainable tourism within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Opening the summit, the Secretary-General of UNWTO Zurab Pololikashvili said he was thrilled/ by the enthusiasm shown by the youth and participants at this momentous occasion.
“It is an honor for me to welcome you all at today’s celebration of the launching of the 1st ever Global Youth Tourism Summit, here in beautiful Sorrento. I am proud to be here with you, especially with the youngsters, who are determined and striving to contribute to a better world for all’’
He singled out the Director of Europe Alessandra Priante for the idea of this event which was in line with his vision for the tourism sector as a Secretary-General of the organization.
‘’The world is home to the largest generation of young people in its history and it is expected to continue to grow. This has brought the need of developing new platforms to work with and for, young people – at local, regional, national, and international levels.
For decades, the United Nations have recognized the vital contribution of the youth to encourage the positive development of our societies and the protection of our heritage and of our blue planet. Moreover, as the leaders of tomorrow, it is pivotal that young people are fully engaged with the global vision for the future.’’
The GYTS is offering a unique a platform where children and youth will be able to develop, share and discuss among them their innovative ideas, their vision of the future and share proposals for the future of sustainable tourism within the global framework of the UN Agenda 2030 and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UN Tourism chief emphasized the crucial role of investments in education, particularly for the youth.
“I am fully convinced that investing in skills and training of young people, empowering them and providing them a forum where their voice can be heard and echoed, are key factors that will allow us to overcome the current crises and pave the path towards a long-lasting and sustainable evolution of the sector” Secretary-General Pololikashvili concluded.
The mayor of Sorrento Mr. Massimo Coppola expressed appreciation to UNWTO for the opportunity to stage this historic event which will define the future of the sector. He said Sorrento is one of Italy’s main tourism hubs and it was only deserving the city to host such a landmark event. ‘’I am confident that from Sorrento we can start the new will of reaching the main goals of SDG Agenda 2030’’ Mr. Massimo Coppola said.
His Holiness Pope Francis called on young participants to make the most of the unique opportunity to develop the knowledge and the skills they will need to build a better future for tourism and for their home communities.
“The experiences that you will make [in Sorrento] will be enshrined in your memories,” Pope Francis said. “This is how you will grow and will be prepared to assume more important roles. I wish that you will be messengers of hope and of rebirth for the future. I send you my blessings and my greetings.”
Italy’s Minister of Tourism Mr. Massimo Garavaglia, who addressed the participants virtually underscored the importance of the youth to the tourism sector and the need to build a sustainable sector starts right now with the youth. He said the aim of the idea is to listen to the youth as the world chart a new path for tourism post the pandemic. ‘’Tourism has changed and you are the first promoters of this change’’
Other dignitaries who addressed the opening included the Ms. Pansy Ho- Secretary-General Global Tourism Economy Forum, China, and Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake- UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.
The first Global Youth Tourism Summit will also feature the support and participation of a number of UNWTO Ambassadors as well as leading figures from across the sector, including Ministers from every global region.
The opening ceremony was preceded by masterclasses on different themes for the participants. Co-founders of Kids against Plastic Amy and Ella Meek had conducted a Masterclass on the youth’s role in having a better and saving the environment. Highlights of their presentation were the proposal of “Plastic clever” which in their view is more realistic and doable within a time frame which the environment needs.
Over 120 youths from 61 countries have gathered in Sorrento to network and create networking opportunities.
An Evening Talk with Secretary-General
A ted-Talk like evening session with the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili concluded a very busy day at the summit. He shared his life journey with the young delegates and encouraged them to believe in themselves as it is the only way to reach their aims and aspirations.
The week-long event will also feature a mock UNWTO General Assembly to allow the youngsters to debate the theme of tourism and discuss the innovative proposals for the future of the sector within the global framework of the UN 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)