Lisbon was the site of the first UNWTO Mayors Forum for Sustainable Urban Tourism, which was co-organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Ministry of Economy of Portugal and the Lisbon Municipality.
The event brought together Mayors and high-level city representatives from around the world, UN agencies and the private sector, to design a shared leadership aimed at ensuring that tourism helps creating cities for all.
Under the theme “Cities for all: building cities for citizens and visitors,” the forum explored issues and solutions for developing and managing tourism in cities in a way that promotes economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.
In a time of intense debate over the growing number of tourists and the livability and sustainability of cities, the forum exchanged ideas and good practices on urban tourism and destination management, discussed innovative tools and public policies on urban tourism at the national and local levels and way of promoting the integration of tourism into wider national and local urban development agenda.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said at the event’s opening: “The income generated from tourism contributes significantly to the socio-economic and cultural development of many cities and its surroundings. Yet, the growth of urban tourism also creates important challenges in terms of the use of natural resources, socio-cultural impact, pressure on infrastructure, mobility, congestion management and relationship with host communities.”
Pololikashvili continued: “Tourism policies should thus be designed as integrated urban policies that promote a well-balanced city economically, socially and environmentally.”
Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, pointed out that: “social sustainability in tourism is one of the main priorities in our 2027 Tourism Strategy. We launched a Sustainability Program for the development of projects by the civil society that involve local populations and tourists so that tourism leaves value in the territories.”
While Lisbon’s mayor, Fernando Medina stated that: “The growth of tourism has important and positive economic impacts. Yet for managing such growth, ensuring sustainability and safeguarding the quality of life of Lisbon’s citizens requires more investment in infrastructure. In Lisbon, we are implementing measures such as increasing transport capacity and investment in urban infrastructure catering for residents and tourists.”
Issues discussed during the event included big data and innovative solutions, new business models, creative cities and events, infrastructure, resources and planning, local community engagement and empowerment and how to ensure the full inclusion of tourism in the wider urban agenda.