Manic Monday – To Russia With Love

Midnight Musings from our CEO

The 23rd United Nations World Tourism Organization ((UNWTO) Annual General Assembly in both Saint Petersburg and Moscow, Russia has now come to an end and for TOTA there are a number of key highlights.

First, it is my great pleasure to share that TOTA was:

  • Formally approved and ratified by the Executive Council of the UNWTO as a full affiliate member during this congress which will enable our organization to further our discussions and work on sustainable tourism and develop leading performance measurement tools; and
  • Presented in front of the over 1,100 delegates as a Finalist and Runner-up for the UNWTO Award for Non-Governmental Organizations globally.  First place went to Amuse Project, Fundación Once in Spain for their outstanding work on accessible and inclusive tourism. Being selected from over 190 applications from 150 countries as the runner up is indeed a huge honour for the work we are collectively doing in the region.

Second, participating and witnessing worldwide unanimous agreements from 120 countries on accessibility, ethics, and education was something that gave me great hope that the industry is moving in the right direction and recognizing its need for responsible change in its approach to tourism development and marketing. Further, there was recognition for tourism’s impact on climate change, seasonality, extreme weather events, experiential travel, inclusiveness, carrying capacity, and the list goes on.

There was unanimous agreement that all of these concerns inclusive of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are no longer a new trend in the conversation of tourism, but real challenges and opportunities that must be dealt with globally.

Finally, my sincere thank you to all that had a role in putting together the program for this year’s General Assembly. It was an absolutely outstanding week of meetings, which had thought-provoking dialogue and where no topic was considered off-limits.  Hosted in Russia, with activities taking place in both Saint Petersburg and Moscow, the country and its people completely outdid themselves.  Everything I had ever imagined about Russia was radically altered and I would welcome any opportunity to return. The hospitality and programming were absolutely beyond reproach and the overall experience second to none.

Again, congratulations to the Russian Tourism Federation and the UNWTO for an extraordinary week. I know for those delegates that had never visited before you broke down barriers, and misconceptions, proving, once again, the power of tourism and travel in action… you did yourselves very, very proud.

Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA President & CEO

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