UNWTO Knowledge Network Forum puts a spotlight on innovation in tourism

Innovation has a central role in advancing tourism and its contribution to sustainable development worldwide. This was the focus of the UNWTO Knowledge Network Global Forum which gathered participants from the public and private sector and academia to further connect theory and practice in tourism (Mexico City, Mexico, 28- 30 May 2014).

Under the theme Innovation in Tourism: Bridging Theory and Practice, the second edition of the UNWTO Knowledge Network Global Forum focused on innovation in tourism intertwining technology, market shifts, product development, and governance. The Forum further stressed the central role that public-private partnerships should play at all levels of tourism development - global, regional and local.

Opening the event in representation of Mexico´s Minister of Tourism, the Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Tourism Development, Carlos Joaquin Gonzales, considered the Forum “a milestone event” and committed to use the outcome of the Forum to “help make innovation the central focus of tourism.”

Participants highlighted that tourism innovation goes beyond technological advancements to include also to non-quantifiable areas such as social advancements within organization and companies, namely the leadership and managerial role of entrepreneurs at all levels in both the public and private sectors. A panel discussion with three UNWTO Ulysses Prize Laureates,  professors Don Hawkins, Jafar Jafari and Kaye Chon, emphasized that tourism research can foster innovation as long as it responds to supply and demand needs and works to disseminate benchmarks. Panelists also stressed the importance of public-private partnerships with academia that promote a culture of innovation.

“The Forum has given us a glimpse of the future of innovation and tourism and set the foundations to link theory and practice”, said Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO Executive-Secretary of Member Relations. “UNWTO is committed to transforming these foundations into actions by collaborating with our members, so that innovation can drive a tourism development model that benefits all”, he added.

During the Forum, a total of 42 papers on the topics of tourism products and experiences and competitiveness and technology were presented in response to the Forum’s Open Call for Papers. The Forum’s Scientific Committee selected the three best papers which will be presented at the annual UNWTO Awards Symposium (Madrid, Spain, January 2015): “Productos turísticos innovadores que eleven la competitividad de los Pueblos Mágicos del Estado de México” by Rosalía López Silva, Hazael Cerón and Eduardo Daniel Puente Santos;  “Scandinavia Destination Sustainability Index” by Jonas Wilstrup and Guy Bigwood; and “Turismo creativo, modelo conceptual y aplicación práctica en comunidades rurales de Ecuador” by Sergio Molina Espinosa and Fernando Mandri Bellot.

The event was jointly organized by UNWTO and the Anahuac University and gathered more than 400 participants from 41 different countries.

Useful links:

2nd UNWTO Knowledge Network Global Forum - Innovation in Tourism: Bridging Theory and Practice


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