GW’s Dr. Hannah Messerli and Professor Emeritus Don Hawkins were in Madrid for the launch of The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which the UN has designated to allow the industry to further drive responsible development that increases livelihoods, promotes the well-being of local communities and protects cultural and natural resources. “The United Nations’ recognition of sustainable tourism will support global sharing and innovation,” noted Messerli. “Key events in all regions will enable public and private sector stakeholders to share ideas and foster better tourism practices.”
While in Madrid, Messerli and Hawkins also attended a related event—the launch of the UN World Tourism Organization’s 13th Awards for Excellence and Innovation. Messerli, served on the award jury for public policy and governance applications. “These awards allow destinations from around the world to showcase and share their new ideas and—importantly—show how they can be successfully implemented,” she explained. “This year’s awards were diverse and demonstrated new achievements in measuring and monitoring tourism’s impact. It is exciting to see the increasing emphasis on all stakeholders—from tourists to governments to the private sector, and especially residents.”
The public policy and governance award went to Mexico’s Guanajuato Ministry of Tourism for a plan that aims to significantly increase tourism development in the state while developing its ability to measure and quantify impacts in a way that is useful to local communities, governments and businesses. “It is very thorough and based on extensive community participation,” said Messerli. In addition to the Guanajuato submission, Costa Rica’s Social Progress Index in Tourist Destinations, which measures the well-being of individuals living in destinations, was also noteworthy.
Over the course of the year, GW will actively participate in thought-leadership events around sustainable tourism including a global conference in November that will draw the development community, governments, donors and locals to focus on collaboration and best practices in the tourism industry. Along with UNWTO, the Jamaican government and the development group Chemonics, GW will help to organize the landmark gathering.