In Lisbon, ISTO addresses social tourism and heritage sustainability

Inés Ayala Sender at the Colloquium. Photo: Fundação INATEL

ISTO's President Inés Ayala Sender and Secretary General Yves Godin travelled to Lisbon, Portugal to take part in the event of one of ISTO's members - Fundação INATEL. 
The colloquia about Social Economy was held from the 18th to the 19th of November and aimed to debate the theme of "Territory, Heritage and Social Tourism Sustainability". 

The first day was dedicated to the discussion of the impact of social tourism in the territories, strategies for territory development and preservation of heritage, bringing to the discussion debate panels, the discrepancy between cities and rural spaces, the importance of social policies for the wellbeing of citizens and safeguard of the patrimony. 

The 2nd day was dedicated to the presentation of study papers, in parallel sessions, with specific cases, among them: Urban Agriculture (community gardens) as a tool of local authorities for re-organization of the territory and well-being activities for inhabitants; cooperatives and associations as a tool for development of social tourism and cultural and natural heritage (olive tourism in Spain); social economy contribution for the autonomy of the locals (Amazonia), among many other rich examples.

The event was co-organized by Fundação INATEL and CIRIEC Portugal and welcomed several international speakers, including the President and the General Secretary of ISTO, Inés Ayala Sender and Yves Godin. 
In his presentation on the contribution of social tourism to the development of the territory, the Secretary General of ISTO highlighted some key principles to be taken into account:  

  • A less concentrated tourism is beneficial for the quality of life of the residents and for the respect of the environment; 
  • Recent phenomena of over-tourism force us to rethink our conception of tourism for the greatest number of people by taking more into account the dimension of the offer; 
  • Some social tourism clienteles such as seniors can contribute to a tourism that is less concentrated over time and to a reduction in the negative impacts of seasonality, particularly with regard to employment; 
  • With the challenges related to the climate, local tourism represents a major trend that will only increase in the coming years; the holiday centres and villages linked to our networks are well positioned to meet this challenge and benefit from it.        
To support his remarks, he provided some concrete examples, in particular the map of the location of VVF Villages and the sustainable tourism policies in Vacances Léo Lagrange establishments in France, as well as the actions carried out by the Floreal Group (establishments open all year round, fight against seasonality with the reception of different clienteles, short tours using local and seasonal products and participation in local events), stressing that in Wallonia, 66% of social tourism beds are not located in tourist areas or not directly with the tourist activity centre.