Sorrento, Italy, 1 July 2022 – Today marks a momentous achievement for the youth of today across all over the world. A small but powerful group of adolescents ages 12 to 18, a total of 120 participants representing 57 countries, have today adopted the Sorrento Call to Action: Youth for Sustainable Tourism. A bold document, a first of its kind in history, where the deep ambitions, desires, and vision of the youth are enshrined to help orientate the decisions of today’s leaders shaping the future of sustainable tourism.
The adoption of the Sorrento Call to Action could not come at a better time. After two years of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry is gradually regaining its momentum and this summer period 2022 it is expected that international tourist arrivals will grow further.
With school closures and international travel severely impeded for a prolonged period of time, the youth have as a consequence suffered the most from the pandemic. However, UNWTO studies show that hope is not lost and, on the contrary, particularly in the younger age groups there is demonstration of a strong resilience and desire to bounce back with greater confidence than their elder peers when looking to the future.
The Sorrento Call to Action, which is the fruit of these young participants (“GYTS-ers”) coming together and brainstorming ideas, is a statement of this confidence and sets the bearings for where tourism should be according to the leaders of tomorrow.
The final text was adopted with 52 favorable opinions during the simulation of a UNWTO General Assembly, taking place every two years. The General Assembly simulation opened with high-level interventions both in person and via video messages from His Holiness Pope Francis, Italian Minister for Tourism Massimo Garavaglia, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio, Italian Minister for Youth Policies Fabiana Dadone, and the UN Envoy for Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake.
Zurab Pololikashvili mentioned that “The Global Youth Tourism Summit is a hugely important first, for UNWTO and for our sector, and that young talent from every region will be supported to give them a stage to voice their ideas about tourism’s future.”
Jayathma Wickramanayake highlighted the importance of promoting the active engagement of young people as agents of transformational change, challenging the status quo, and realizing the Agenda 2030.
Massimo Garavaglia emphasized Italy as being the proud hosts of this first ever event and encouraged the young people present to become the responsible travelers of tomorrow and to keep their optimism for making their dreams a reality.
Throughout this day, discussions took place on the basis of previous preparatory webinars where the GYTS-ers learned about crucial themes in the build-up to the Summit, such as innovation and digitalization.
Participants discussed during the General Assembly the importance of fairer distribution of benefits from tourism for everyone, improving the accessibility of tourism, and measuring the impact that tourism has on climate change.
Three pillars are enshrined in the Sorrento Call to Action: People, Planet, and Prosperity. For the people, for example, a strong call is made for safeguarding the human rights especially of persons with disabilities through adequate tourism strategies and policies. For the planet, the issues of food waste, plastic pollution, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity preservation are flagged up. Finally, for prosperity, poverty reduction, upgrading digital skills, and creating more employment opportunities are voiced by the young participants.
The Sorrento Call to Action will be presented at the next UNWTO General Assembly to be held in Uzbekistan in 2023. The young leaders of tomorrow have expressed themselves and their voices will be heard.