Donostia/San Sebastián, World Tourism Organization award for "Innovation and Sustainability"

Donostia won the award for "Innovation and Sustainability in Public Policies and Governance" at the 15th UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) Awards, which recognise inspiring projects that contribute to the promotion of sustainable tourism.

•    This honour was given for "Love San Sebastián. Live Donostia", a project that reflects the city's new priorities in managing and promoting itself as a destination, spearheaded by the Tourism Master Plan 2017-2021. It places people at the heart of the city's tourism development model and commits to sustainable, balanced, authentic and quality tourism.

•    Eneko Goia, mayor of Donostia/San Sebastián, collected the award and took the opportunity to explain the city's strategy and commitment to a people-centred tourism model.



A delegation from San Sebastián, led by mayor Eneko Goia, and accompanied by the Councillor for Economic Development and Sustainable Tourism, Ernesto Gasco, and the director of Donostia San Sebastián Turismoa, Manu Narváez, made the trip to St. Petersburg to participate in the 23rd General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization and present the city's sustainable tourism model.

"Love San Sebastián. Live Donostia", which was a finalist for the UNWTO award for "Sustainability and Innovation in Public Policies and Governance", alongside the Colombian Ministry of Tourism's "Tourism and Peace" programme, and Turismo de Tenerife's "Charter for sustainable whale watching", was honoured at the gala held by the United Nations' tourism body.

The mayor, Eneko Goia, was thrilled to receive the prize, and said that "this award from the world's highest tourism authority, recognizes, supports and consolidates Donostia's commitment to find a way to reconcile tourism--a sector which is expanding around the globe--with the need to hold on to our identity as a city and look after the people who live in the city year-round, the people of Donostia".

At the 23rd General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization, a United Nations agency, mayor Eneko Goia had the opportunity to discuss the tourism model that San Sebastián has put in place over recent years. He explained "it is based on a commitment to quality as a destination as opposed to other models that prioritise constant growth." Eneko Goia also said that "the City Council views tourism as a source of wealth and jobs, but cannot allow the sector to adversely affect local residents. To achieve this, we try to find ways to raise visitors' awareness of the importance of respecting the city's and citizens' everyday life. Donostia has always been and remains a city that welcomes visitors, but we want to remind those who choose us as a destination that it is important to be respectful and responsible, with messages such as respecting people's rest, cleanliness, public transport and the local language and customs.”.

Putting people at the heart of what we do

“Love San Sebastián. Live Donostia" combines the challenges and objectives set out the Tourism Master Plan Donostia 2017-2021, reflecting the city's new priorities in managing and promoting itself as a destination. The Master Plan places people at the heart of Donostia/San Sebastián's tourism development model and its commitment to social, environmental and economic sustainability; to striking a balance between citizens, visitors, businesses; to quality, be it qualify of life, tourist visits or the destination itself; and to authenticity in identity, culture, language, traditions, uniqueness...

The Donostia/San Sebastián Visit- Bizi Tourism Master Plan 2017-2021 has been deployed as a roadmap with the following major tenants:  

•    Destination management, promoting a balanced integration of tourism as part Donostia/San Sebastián's urban fabric, economy and society in the city.
This is crystallised in the form of municipal management of the effects of tourism, i.e. the planning and management of public spaces and tourist activity (in particular the phenomenon of tourist apartments); maintaining the quality of the urban landscape; improving tourist mobility; setting up an observatory of sustainable tourism in the city; and new forms of participation in the financing of municipal services..
•    Consolidation of the Donostia/San Sebastián brand, inspired by authenticity, cultural identity, and the images and landscapes that embody the city.
•    And definition of a new model of tourism governance, from a metropolitan perspective, and in response to the city's new agenda, i.e. the priority of management over promotion, revamping how tourism is organised, expanding public-private partnerships and involving the public in a dialogue about the city's tourism model.  

To this end, the project "Love San Sebastián. Live Donostia" aims to foster mutual understanding and agreement between the city and its visitors, and to promote the concept of tourismophifilia through an initiative that strives for an open, welcoming and hospitable city, and responsible and respectful tourism.

“Love San Sebastián. Live Donostia" urges visitors to love the city and to experience all it has to offer. It's very title plays with this idea: "If you come to San Sebastián because you like it, you love it, live Donostia (the city's name in Basque, which is what most local residents call it). That is to say, become and act like any other local resident". This has been distilled into ten tips that provide a way of getting to know and enjoy the city that respects local residents:

If you go out at night, remember that many people have to work the next morning so that you can enjoy yourself.

Our culture makes us who we are. The best way to respect it is to join in! Welcome! Ongi etorri! (welcome in Basque)

Bike, bus, train... It's faster, more convenient and less polluting. It's better for you and better for Donostia/San Sebastián.

Make the most of your trip to Donostia/San Sebastián by shopping in the local shops. Food, crafts, fashion... there's so much to choose from.

Only throw your rubbish away in the bins provided. This way the city will be all the prettier.

Try saying "Hello" and "Goodbye" in Basque. "Kaixo" and "Agur". It's simple and very polite.

The city's public spaces are there to be enjoyed and shared.

Get to know us for real and let us get to know you. Share your experience.

If you have rented a flat, remember that you're living alongside local people. Respect their space, environment and rest.

Many people want to enjoy themselves just like you. The best way is to pick it up from the locals.  

The campaign has been rolled out in a number of formats and the concept is an integral part of all the tourism authority's messaging.

UNWTO panel and awards

The panel consisted of eight tourism experts from the public sector, private companies and universities:  
1.    Diana Robino, Global Tourism Partnerships Lead, Mastercard
2.    Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis, director of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality, Bournemouth University, United Kingdom (affiliate member)
3.    Eduardo Santander, executive director/director general, European Travel Commission
4.    Istvan Ujhelyi, vice-chairman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, European Parliament
5.    Jae-sung Rhee, CEO, Seoul Tourism Organization (affiliate member)
6.    Judy Kepher-Gona, founder and director, Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda - STTA Kenya
7.    Professor Kaye Chon, dean and professor of the Walter Kwok Foundation, professor at the International Hospitality Management School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (affiliate member)
8.    Sally Davey, director, Industry Affairs, Trip Advisor (affiliate member)

The UNWTO Awards recognize the contribution of institutions to the development of a more competitive, responsible and sustainable tourism sector striving to achieve the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
The 15th UNWTO Awards received a total of 190 applications from 71 countries for the three categories: Public Policy and Governance, Business, and Non-Governmental Organizations.


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