Seoul Hosts the 7th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism

21st Sep, 2018
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The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) co-hosted the UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism at The Shilla Seoul from September 16 to 19. The UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism is an international conference where tourism destination cities share their visions and discuss joint strategies. Seoul is the first city in Northeast Asia to hold the summit.

The summit was composed of an opening ceremony, high-level panel, four sessions, closing ceremony, Seoul tours, and the UNWTO Global Youth Summit on Urban Tourism. The opening ceremony took place on the 17th with a welcome address from Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, which was followed by a keynote address from B. Joseph Pine II, who is well known for first using the term “experience economy”. In his keynote speech, Pine II discussed how people now are not just seeking mere experiences but ones that create and sustain transformation in their lives.

For this year's summit, approximately 500 tourism industry professionals and experts from 50 countries were in attendance. Heads of tourism administrations and organizations from Malaysia, Spain, Thailand, Mongolia, and Zambia attended along with delegates from Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Nice, Macau, Cape Town, Kampala, and Yangon. Representatives from international tourism organizations such as UNWTO, PATA, and WTTC also gathered at the summit. 

At the summit, the UNWTO released its report, “‘Overtourism’? Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions”, which discusses 68 measures to help understand and manage rapid urban tourism growth.  

Mayors of major tourism destinations, heads of tourism administrations and organizations, and officials of related ministries and agencies gathered around the high-level panel to share their experiences and visions on urban tourism.

Session 1 looked in-depth at the future of urban tourism. Tourism policymakers from Macau, San Sebastian, and Singapore, and directors of global tourism companies like TripAdvisor were in attendance to share their views on the global trends of urban tourism and future competitive urban destinations. 

The theme for Session 2 was “The 4th Industrial Revolution Shaping the Future of Urban Tourism”. Professor and e-tourism specialist, Dimitrios Buhalis, and tourism-related companies such as Mastercard, Amadeus, and Myrealtrip discussed the technological changes that have been brought about by the 4th Industrial Revolution and successful cases of smart destinations.  

Seoul's examples of urban regeneration were shared in Session 3. The city of Seoul received the Lee Kuan Yew World Prize Award for its accomplishments in urban regeneration which were built on citizen participation. In addition to Seoul, the strategies that have been carried out by cities such as Osaka, Madrid, and Linz to reinvigorate tourism through urban regeneration were discussed.

This year's summit was held in conjunction with the “Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism Forum 2018”, which made up its Session 4. Under the theme of “Fair and Inclusive Tourism”, forum participants discussed solutions for overtourism, including mobile apps that would alert tourists of crowding at certain attractions and the development of a global code of ethics that includes cultural sensitivity toward local neighborhoods.

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