The Future of Sustainable Tourism
November 2nd, 2017
By: Ashlee Painter
On October 20th Dr. David Randle, Director of the Sustainable Tourism concentration, and Louis Zunguze, Director of the Coastal Sustainability concentration, attended a Mayors Summit at Tampa Bay Watch to discuss the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference. The summit included mayors from Pinellas and Manatee counties that have been working with PCGS and the UNWTO Blue Community Consortium to create sustainable tourism opportunities in their communities. PCGS and UNWTO have been working within a region on the Gulf coast that includes eight communities (St. Petersburg, Gulf Port, Treasure Island, Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Historic Cortez Fishing Village, and Long Boat Key) and two satellite areas (New Smyrna Beach/NASA and Key West). The summit was an opportunity for Dr. Randle and Mr. Zunguze to brief the mayors on the conference and invite their participation in the events. There was a very positive response all around for the collaboration between tourism operators, local government, and PCGS.
The UNTWO conference took place October 26-29 on Anna Maria Island in Manatee County as part of the UN International Year for Sustainable Tourism celebration. The conference was designed to be experiential rather than just informational. In addition to panels and discussions from local and international leaders in sustainable tourism, the conference included learning excursions to see and taste sustainable tourism put into action. Starting with the conference location, The Studio at Gulf and Pine, the attendees were able to observe and take a hands-on approach to learning about new techniques to incorporate into future community planning.
The conference proved to be the holistic, global event the coordinators had hoped for. PCGS was well represented with eight faculty members and more than a dozen current students and alumni in attendance. Representatives from over 10 countries and several US states were present to share their knowledge and to learn new sustainability practices. In addition to these attendees, Dr. Randle said he was pleased that three county commissioners were also in attendance and excited about the Blue Community Consortium's mission. A total of 68 members of the international, tourism, governmental, and academic communities attended this inaugural event.
The theme of UNTWO conference was "Choices for Our Sustainable Tourism Future". The attendees spent the final day of the conference discussing the future of tourism in the Blue Community Consortium's regional areas. Through the collaborative network of highly knowledgeable attendees, a proven future template for sustainable tourism was created and a significant headway was made for the formation of a futures team. The conference also brought about new collaborations between local governments and the Blue Community Consortium, one of which is the Bradenton CVB, who pledged to fund a yearly conference to ensure the continued success of sustainable tourism for the future.
Overall, the conference organizers counted this first event a success. Joe Tankersly, President and CEO of Univision, author, futurist, and Walt Disney Imagineer, promptly sent an email to the organizers to say, "Thank you for being such wonderful hosts and bringing together such an amazing collection of spirit and intellect. I got so much out of my time with the group. I am jazzed, reinvigorated, (overfed) and can't wait to discover what we can do next." With so much positive energy and drive pushing sustainable tourism forward, we can expect to see great things in the future.
For more information on the UNWTO Blue Community Consortium: http://www.bluecommunity.info
To read what the local press has to say about the conference: