As global outbound tourism spreads, urban destinations continue to struggle with the impact of overtourism. At the recent UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism in Seoul from September 16 to 19, tourism professionals, city mayors and delegates from around the world were gathered to share their vision and discuss joint strategies.
The four-day event held at The Shilla Seoul was co-hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Key speakers included American author B. Joseph Pine II, well-known as the first to use the term "experience economy", who highlighted the demand for travel experiences that "create and sustain transformation in their lives."
This year's summit drew almost 500 tourism industry professionals and experts from 50 countries.
Heads of tourism administrations and organisations 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 organisations such as UNWTO, PATA, and WTTC also gathered at the summit.
In the first session, tourism policymakers from Macau, San Sebastian, and Singapore, and directors of global tourism companies like TripAdvisor discussed the future of urban tourism and future competitive urban destinations.
The topic of a "fourth industrial revolution" was the main focus on the second session led by Professor and e-tourism specialist, Dimitrios Buhalis. Tourism-related companies such as Mastercard, Amadeus, and Myrealtrip discussed the technological changes that have been brought about by the fourth Industrial Revolution and successful cases of smart destinations.
Examples of Seoul's urban regeneration were shared in a third session. The city of Seoul received the Lee Kuan Yew World Prize Award for its accomplishments in urban regeneration which were built on citizen participation. Highlights from other cities such as Osaka, Madrid, and Linz also featured.
Closing out the summit were innovative solutions for overtourism. Mobile apps that alert tourists of crowding at attractions and the development of a global code of ethics that includes cultural sensitivity toward local neighbourhoods were highlight of the session themed "Fair and Inclusive Tourism".