UNWTO Knowledge Network Session & UNWTO Knowledge Network Symposium - Istanbul, Turkey
The first UNWTO Knowledge Network Session and the Knowledge Network Symposium were held within the framework of the Global Summit on City Tourism and the UNWTO Affiliate Members’ Plenary Session from 14-16 November 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.. The objective of the Knowledge Network Session was to open a debate between members on the vision and strategic directions of the UNWTO Knowledge Network in order to strengthen its way forward, as well as to discuss its concept, current issues and the Programme of Work for 2012-2013.
The UNWTO knowledge Network Session
Date: Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Venue: TOPP İstanbul Hizmet Binası
The Session was initiated by the UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Taleb Rifai with an opening speech emphasizing that one of the aims of the UNWTO was “to strengthen the Knowledge Network as an extensive research and fully integrated body of UNWTO in support of innovation in policy, governance and other key areas of tourism development.”
After the opening remarks, Mr. Donald Hawkins, UNWTO Affiliate Members Board and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General presented the new Knowledge Network Membership Development Strategy within Affiliate Members. Mr. Hawkins stressed on the urge to simplify the previous scheme of Knowledge Network Members which originally contemplated three different categories of sub-groups based on their size and competencies. He emphasized that the new development plan would further strengthen the Knowledge Network as a core think-tank of the UNWTO, supporting its General Programme of Work, the 155 Member States and over 400 Affiliate Members.
Following the presentation, Ms. Eun-ji Tae from the Knowledge Network advanced a report on the Knowledge Network Programme of Work for 2012-2013. In the report, the Knowledge Network core goal was identified as to establish proactive linkages between UNWTO Member States and Knowledge Network Members to address priority knowledge needs, provide on-going capability for UNWTO regional programs and operating programs, and create linkages between knowledge-related activities of the Affiliate Members and the UNWTO Themis Foundation.
The Session ended with an open debate on the Knowledge Network vision and strategic direction, The participants evaluated the session positively as an opportunity to discuss where the Knowledge Network stands today and where it aims to stand in the future.
The Knowledge Network Symposium
Date: Friday, 16 November
Venue: Bogaziçi University
The Symposium highlighted the best practices showcased by the 2012 UNWTO Awards winners and provided with an invaluable opportunity for a high-level panel discussion on tourism-related knowledge management.
After the opening remarks from Mr. Márcio Favilla, Executive Director for Competitiveness, External Relations and Partnerships of UNWTO and the President of Bogaziçi University Mr. Gülay Barbarosoglu, the 2012 Ulysses Prize Awardee Dr. Erik Cohen gave a special lecture on Globalization, Social Crisis and Tourism. Dr. Cohen pointed to the influence of the contemporary global crises on the global and the Asian tourism system, auguring a slowdown and possible reversal of tourism development with potentially critical consequences. He concluded that tourism planners, investors and managers would need to rethink their long-range policies and find new ways to respond to the challenges which the changing world poses to future tourism development.
Mr Eduardo Fayos-Solà, President of the Ulysses Foundation and Former Executive Secretary of the UNWTO Knowledge Network made an introduction on the history of the UNWTO Awards since their inception in 2003. After appraising former awardees, Mr. Fayos-Solà underlined the need for exemplary tourism initiatives to inspire other tourism professionals to take the path of sustainable tourism. In line with Mr Fayos-Solà’s arguments, Mr. Márcio Favilla presented the winners of the 2012 edition awardees, stressing that the awards were an acknowledgment to achievement and inspiration. After his words, Mr. Carlos Serrano and Mr. Javier Ferris presented respectively two awarded projects on behalf of their organizations: in the category of UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Enterprises, the Conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of Quintana Roo, by Experiencias Xcaret and in the category of UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Research and Technolgy, TurAcces by the Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia.
Lastly, there was a panel discussion on the topic “Making a case for bridging Theory and Practice”. The discussion was moderated by Maria D. Alvarez from Bogaziçi University and counted with the collaboration of Mr. Márcio Favilla in representation of the UNWTO, Dr. Donald Hawkins (George Washington University), Dr. Jafar Jafari (University of Wisconsin), Dr. Pauline Sheldon (University of Hawaii) and Dr. Chris Cooper (Oxford Brookes University). The participants agreed that the academics and the practitioners of the tourism sector were separated by a bridge with no “traffic” on it. Communication was felt to be indispensable yet lacking between both parties, evidencing the timeliness of initiatives focused on bridging the gap between Theory and Practice, such as the UNWTO Knowledge Network.