World mayors gather in Porto to take part in the UNWTO Mayors Forum for Sustainable Urban Tourism

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Throughout today, 9 July, Porto Customs hosts the mayors of several world cities, as well as other organisations and professionals in the tourism sector, for the third edition of the UNWTO Mayors Forum for Sustainable Urban Tourism. The Secretary General of the UNWTO participated at the opening ceremony, Zurab Pololikashvili, as well as the Ministry of State, Economy and Digital Transition, Pedro Siza Vieira.

Rui Moreira, Mayor of Porto, welcomed everyone to the city and recalled the idea that “if urban destinations were the most affected by the pandemic, then, they are the ones that have to work harder to create a new impetus in find new solutions for the transformation of the territory”. The Mayor advanced that “the issues that we are approaching today are of great importance for everyone and I am proud to affirm that they have been at the core of Porto’s strategic development”. As regards that strategy, the Mayor mentioned the fact that the city “has adopted and encouraged best practices in the city’s planning and management, namely in the context of the touristic activity, by boosting a balance that will benefit the territory as a whole, with the goal of building an inclusive and sustainable city for future generations”.

The Mayor of Porto also mentioned the Land-Use Planning (which entered into force today), which shows “a clear commitment with sustainability, in such issues as the promotion of wellbeing and quality of life, the mitigation of socioeconomic inequalities, sustainable and smart mobility, environmental quality, the preservation of the cultural identity and the strengthening of the city at economic level.”

“At present”, enhanced Rui Moreira, “it is essential that cities affirm themselves as smart destinations, by implementing innovative technological solutions in the several sectors of urban life, and that they promote their development, international projection, strengthen attractiveness and the wellbeing of both residents and visitors”.

The Mayor of Porto concluded by affirming that “the city has performed wonderfully, looking ahead, with the goal of turning the city into a more resilient, safe, inclusive and sustainable city, which requires continuous adjustment as regards strategy”.

Sustainable cities waiting for tourists

The Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation, Zurab Pololikashvili, took the floor and addressed Rui Moreira by ensuring him that he is “very lucky to be the Mayor of such wonderful city”, recalling that the “support to infrastructure is always a support to tourism" and shared his belief that “tourist will always come back to such as agreeable place”, as is Porto.

According to the Secretary General, the pandemic “might be an opportunity to remodel the sector”, which can be 2more resilient and more inclusive”. Besides, “this is the right time to restart the debate on the excess of tourism, with new rules, platforms, and innovative products. The UNWTO Secretary General recalled how this Forum was established in 2019, and also took place in Porto, with the mission to “highlight the importance of tourism in the urban agenda”.

Zurab Pololikashvili concluded with a challenge: “that all authorities are a joint partner so that the sector is more sustainable, and more accessible in our cities”.

The Minister of State, Economy and Digital Transition, Pedro Siza Vieira, closed the opening session and also acknowledged that Porto is an example “of how a city and a region can benefit from tourism”, and enhanced “the huge effort to upgrade the city”, which brought economic prosperity and dynamism and attracted foreign investment in different areas.”

The minister affirmed the “success of the Covid-19 Digital certificate and that “there is a huge advantage in this document”. “People want to continue travelling, we will prepare the best way possible for that”, affirmed Pedro Siza Vieira, believing that “the digital technologies will help manage the transport systems, the flows and a better experience both for residents and visitors.”

In recognition of the “hospitability of the city of Porto” and the commitment in “ensuring a sustainable future for cities”, the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation gifted a souvenir to the Municipality of Porto.

The agenda was then accompanied by the councillor for Economy, Tourism and Trade, Ricardo Valente, in several sessions that are also attended by the Secretary State of Tourism, Rita Maia, the President of Turismo de Portugal, Luís Araújo, and the President of Turismo do Porto e Norte de Portugal, Luís Pedro Martins.

The discussion on “Rethinking Urban Tourism” and “Smart Cities and Tourism” can be accompanied via the Youtube da UNWTO.

The works conclude with the signing of the Porto Declaration on Tourism and the Future of Cities.