Co-create, learn, participate, enjoy and network were the objectives we had set for the World Congress held in the Azores between 12 and 15 October, and I must say that we have fulfilled all of them.
Thanks to our friends from INATEL, Visit Portugal, the Regional Government of the Azores and the commitment of our ISTO team, more than 150 attendees from around twenty countries had the pleasure of getting to know the beautiful Azores, a destination committed to sustainability that is willing to get more involved in its social dimension, where we were all impressed by its beauty and the friendliness of its people.
There are many results to highlight from our Congress and General Assembly, but I would like to highlight the ratification of the Board of Directors, where we welcomed the Asociación Chilena de Turismo Rural, Achitur from Chile, Plataforma Representativa de Personas con Discapacidad, Predif from Spain and the Ayuntamiento de San Luis Potosí from Mexico. This allowed us to hold elections for the Executive Committee, where I was unanimously re-elected as President for a new mandate and Yves Godin as Secretary General, as well as incorporating Coralie Marti from ATES (France) as Vice-President. I am very grateful for the renewed trust and, of course, excited to continue to lead ISTO together with the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.
The future of ISTO must be co-created by its members, which is why we held regional workshops to define ISTO's regional and international priorities, which will shape our next action plan, which we hope to present by the end of January. ISTO faces some key challenges such as reinforcing its visibility and international positioning in the social dimension of sustainability through the arguments created by our Observatory of Social, Fair and Sustainable Tourism for All, reinforcing alliances and creating new ones, increasing coordination between regions and the consolidation of Africa, strengthening our commitment to inclusion and reinforcing a funding model that allows us to increase our capacity to work.
The Congress was a very enriching space for debate and exchange, where thanks to top-level speakers and panels we were able to learn about different perspectives on current issues such as social sustainability, social inclusion, the impact of proximity tourism and analyse the main challenges of the sector. In this same framework, we presented an ISTO model of implementation of social, fair and responsible tourism, the participating public authorities signed a letter of support to the project of the Observatory of Social, Fair and Sustainable Tourism for All, we launched the eLibrary and we held the first ceremony of the ISTO Awards presented by our honorary president Jean-Marc Mignon, thanks to the support of our member ANCV and TAP Air Portugal, who were key to make this initiative a success. Congratulations to all the winners!
At the same ceremony, we wanted to give special recognition to the anniversaries of commitment to tourism for all that INATEL in Portugal, Auvergne Rhone-Alpes Tourisme in France, Jean-Marc Mignon, and the ANCV in France are celebrating this year. But without a doubt, what I would like to highlight the most is you, our members, your involvement in ISTO, your contributions, your points of view and your friendship, which is, after all, the greatest value of ISTO: the people who form part of it. Let's move forward towards building a more inclusive, supportive and sustainable tourism, a force for positive change that the planet urgently needs, ISTO needs more leaders in responsible tourism and I invite you to join me on this path. Thank you and let's move forward.