Edito by Charles-E. Bélanger, Director of ISTO
30 Jun 2022

Edito by Charles-E. Bélanger, Director of ISTO.

On the way to ISTO World Congress 2022 in the Azores!

The 3rd edition of ISTO's International Week of Fair and Sustainable Tourism for All has just ended. It has of course been marked by the GA which allowed us to present a summary of the activities carried out by ISTO, its working groups and its regional sections over the last few months. But, as originally conceived, this Week has above all allowed us to promote a great diversity of initiatives organised by the members, to encourage contacts between them and to highlight all the dynamism existing within our network.

This Week was also an opportunity to discuss the main theme of our next World Congress - Social Sustainability, a key driver for the future of tourism - which will be held in the Azores Archipelago from 12 to 15 October 2022, thanks to the participation and support of the Regional Government of the Azores Islands, the INATEL Foundation and Turismo de Portugal.

These exchanges took the form of 3 workshops held in French, English and Spanish, based on a concept note presenting the theme of social sustainability in tourism from the point of view of travellers, residents and workers. Thanks to the facilitation and expertise of 6 of our colleagues, these workshops allowed the identification of topics, orientations and examples of best practices to be put forward at the next Congress.

Above all, they have allowed to validate a certain number of unavoidable questions around which the members and partners of ISTO, but also other actors of the tourism ecosystem must bring elements of answers: What role should the public authorities have in order to ensure a better equality of access to holidays and to its benefits? What place should be given to the development of domestic and local tourism? How can destination managers better involve local communities in the tourism development process in their host areas? How can we change the "low-cost" model too often associated with uncontrolled mass tourism, without falling into the model of elitist responsible tourism? How can innovation and technology contribute to a better diversification and distribution of tourist flows? What examples should be followed to ensure that it is not the tourist who takes more relevance over the citizen? Finally, how can we respond to the labour shortage in the sector through better training, by enhancing the value of the various trades and professions, by improving working conditions and by genuinely taking into account issues related to gender equity and diversity?

These few questions, as you will have understood, are most pertinent when we see how the "post-Covid" recovery of the sector is taking shape, whereas many thought, at the height of the pandemic and when tourism was at a standstill, that we would be able to learn from this crisis...

To quote one of our experts, we need to focus on a "human-to-human sustainable tourism" and for this, ISTO network is well positioned to make its voice heard and to ensure that these issues are put on the agenda of international institutions and public authorities in a greater number of countries and, above all, that this is translated into concrete and measurable actions on the ground.

This is a foretaste of what is to come for this unique Congress in the Azores. We are looking forward to see many of you there!