Mayors discuss how to revive urban tourism

City tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors of the tourism industry and may be the last to recover. For this reason, the mayors of some of the world’s top destinations have gathered in Porto to rethink city tourism in the post-pandemic era.

Organized by the UNWTO, the Government of Portugal, Turismo de Portugal and the City of Porto, the Forum of Mayors on Tourism and the Future of Cities highlighted the opportunity to relaunch city tourism with a focus on sustainability, innovation and inclusion.

Formed in April 2019, the Forum of Mayors provides a unique platform for cities and other key players to share tourism policies and best practices. The international forum strives to advance the role of tourism in the urban agenda and harness the potential of the sector to provide economic opportunities and promote cultural ties. The Porto meeting was seen as an opportunity to rethink city tourism and continue to harness its proven potential for the benefit of residents and tourists.

UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili said: “It will bring hope, confidence and help rekindle what makes city life so exciting, from culture and gastronomy to entrepreneurship and new ideas. In this context, the Secretary General also welcomed Portugal’s National Support Plan for the revival of tourism as well as its recently launched Sustainable Development + Strategy.

Pedro Siza Vieira, Minister of State, Economy and Digital Transition of Portugal said: “Now is the time to reflect on the importance of managing the flow of tourists in our cities. Digital technologies and continued investments in new attractions will allow us to provide a better experience for the millions of people who want to resume their travels and who will visit our cities in the future. “

As host of the Forum, the Mayor of Porto Rui Moreira declared: “Cities must know how to transform, transform the old into new, rehabilitate and enhance their heritage, material and immaterial, and simultaneously create new centers of interest to serve and welcome residents and visitors.

Organized by the UNWTO, the Government of Portugal, Turismo de Portugal and the City of Porto, the Forum hosted the mayors and vice-mayors of Athens, Belgrade, Braga, Bruges, Brussels, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Florence, Madrid, Moscow, Podgorica, Prague, Samarkand, Sao Vicente, Skiathos, Tirana and Venice. They were joined by leaders of UN Habitat, the European Committee of the Regions and the Unión Ciudades Capitales Iberoamericanas (UCCI), along with representatives of key private sector players, including Expedia Group, the Cruise Lines International Association. (CLIA) and Airbnb.

Porto Declaration on the Future of Cities

The participants adopted the Porto Declaration on Tourism and the Future of Cities, which reaffirms the commitment of cities to develop tourism in a sustainable and responsible manner. This includes putting tourism on the urban recovery agenda, with policies aligned with the United Nations New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The declaration also states that signatory cities will encourage multi-stakeholder cooperation to foster innovation and use digitization and big data to improve both the tourism experience and the sector’s positive impact on residents. In addition, the Declaration recognizes the importance for cities to build bridges with rural areas so that the benefits of tourism are more widely used.

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