(Rome, 20 June 2019) The Mediterranean Sustainable Tourism Convention 2019, held in Barcelona on the 5th-7th of June, has been the occasion for the MED Sustainable Tourism Community to debate on different aspects of the tourist activity in the region. It promoted as well the encounter of the territorial projects of this thematic community of the Interreg MED Programme with external actors and stakeholders of the tourism sector. They all participated in panel debates, workshops, roundtables and study visits, bringing different stances in the broader view of rethinking the tourism sector’s contribution to a more sustainable and inclusive growth in the Mediterranean region.
The rich two-days programme gathered 280 participants of which about 70 different speakers and an average of 210 attendees, in all of the six plenary sessions (including the opening and closing ones, and the keynote session). On the 6th of June, the number of attendees remained unvaried with an average of 115 participants in each of the 4 batches of parallel sessions, demonstrating a high interest in the various topics presented. The session with the lower attendance , with less than 100 participants, has been the one on the “Coastal and maritime tourism in the Blue Economy”, raising the question of “how much the tourism actors are conscious of the blue economy potential?”
The 7th of June was the occasion for the participants to explore some sites within the Province of Barcelona, that were chosen as examples of best-practices and connected to some of the themes tackled in the panels: tourism and mobility, labels and certifications, and diversification of the tourism offer. The four site-visits, including the Port of Barcelona, the site of Colonia-Guell, the eno-route of Penedés and the Natural Park of Sant LLorenç del Munt i l’Obac, despite the restrictions of each of the hosting sites, gathered an average of 30 participants.
Another interesting aspect, emerging from the participants’ statistics is the typology of organisms they represented. Only 12 representatives of sectoral agencies participated in the event, followed by enterprises and SMEs, international organisations and national public authorities representing overall the categories with the lowest share of participants, with an average of 20 participants in each category; while the highest number of participants were representatives of local authorities, both local and regional ones and academic institutions, both higher education and research ones. Interest groups, including NGOs, were also well represented with 32 participants and some of them also as speakers.
The participants came also from non-Mediterranean countries such as Germany, the UK or Belgium, showing an interest the Mediterranean region shared by countries that are not geographically located there. Half of the participants originated from Spain (134 Spanish participants of which only 25 were from other autonomous communities than Catalonia) while more than the 50% remaining, namely 146 participants, came from other countries. The greatest came from Italy (46), Greece (19) and France (16), followed by Albania (13), Malta (6) and Cyprus (5). The data confirmed the presence of these countries in the MED Sustainable Tourism Community of projects, which combined with the attendance and interest of the Southern shore of the Mediterranean, as Morocco, is not to be excluded when talking of widening the transnational cooperation in the Mediterranean basin.
These data can help to understand the type of actors that manifested the strongest interest in feeding the debates and taking part in it, looking for more sustainable solutions in the Mediterranean tourism sector, in accordance with the activity developed in the territorial projects of the MED Sustainable Tourism Community.