The OMT / BCC Forum highlights gastronomic tourism as a driver of rural development

The 6th edition of the UNWTO World Food Tourism Forum, held in Bruges, Flanders (Belgium, October 31-November 2), focused on the sector’s unique ability to support business rural areas, create jobs and protect and promote culture and heritage. For the first time, the Forum, organized by the UNWTO and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) included a special session dedicated to African gastronomy, recognizing its potential as a tool for socio-economic development and helping destinations through the continent to strengthen their distinct brand image. and market to new audiences. The session ended with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNWTO and Chefs in Africa.

Opening the Forum, UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Food tourism adds vitality to rural communities, supports small local food producers and strengthens their position in the market, helping to add value to the tourist experience while promoting the preservation and development of products and knowledge. -make local.

Joxe Mari Aizega, Managing Director of the Basque Culinary Center, said: “Food tourism offers a unique opportunity to foster the economic growth of rural communities. It is a way of involving the various players in the gastronomy value chain, and of promoting economic and social development from farm to table. “

Flemish Minister Matthias Diependaele said: “With the gastronomy and tourism sectors at a turning point, we believe there is a need to move towards value-added gastronomy tourism for our destinations, our residents, our local entrepreneurs as well as visitors. We are happy to have gathered with leaders from around the world to exchange experiences and find inspiration to chart the course towards a sustainable future for the food tourism sector.

The mayor of Bruges Dirk De fauw added: “I am very honored that our city has been chosen to be the host city of this important congress on tourist gastronomy. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Bruges opted for a story of sustainable tourism in which we explicitly opt for ‘better’ rather than ‘more’. A positive and lasting story that we write with our visitors, residents and entrepreneurs.

To ensure that gastronomic tourism can develop as an engine of rural development, participants recognized the need to strengthen coordination between tourism, agricultural and rural development policies at global, national and local levels. At the same time, the forum also looked at the best ways to design gastronomic tourism strategies and practices that guarantee the sustainable use of resources, the promotion of local products and know-how, and responsible consumption.

Also in Bruges, UNWTO showcased the talented entrepreneurs who are addressing the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals through innovation along the food tourism value chain. Selected startups focused on climate action, waste reduction, building sustainable communities, protecting ecosystems, among others, presented their ideas to Forum participants. The startups included Faroo (Italy), Rutopia (Mexico), Apadrina un Olivo (Spain), Katla Aero (Sweden) and KITRO (Switzerland).

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About the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialized agency that promotes tourism as a vehicle for equal, inclusive and sustainable development. In collaboration with its Member States, international organizations and the private sector, UNWTO promotes safe and smooth travel for all. UNWTO is also working to make tourism the foundation of international trust and cooperation and a central pillar of recovery. As a member of the broader United Nations system, UNWTO is at the forefront of global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through its ability to create decent jobs, promote equality and preserve natural and cultural heritage.

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