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16 / 07 / 2004
The tourism sector promises to ally itself with cultural diversity and sustainable development

“For the first time ever the symbiosis of tourism, cultural diversity and sustainable development has been recognized”, said Cipriano Marín, from the organization INSULA and the Institute for Responsible Tourism at the conclusion of the Dialogue "Tourism, Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development" The Dialogue adopted the slogan "we are all tourism and tourism is for all of us."

At the same press conference there were also speeches by: Eduardo Farina, from the International Forum of Tourism for Peace and Sustainable Development; Juan Ignacio Pulido, secretary general of the Spanish Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism Emma Tuki, from the National Corporation of Indigenous Development of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Wolf Michael Iwand, executive director of the quality and environment department at the tour operator TUI.

Marín said that “cultural diversity is an essential value for the tourist industry of the future" and that "the imposition of homogenization is one of the largest risks of degradation in the sector”. “We have brought these new creature to life: the understanding between tourism sustainable development and respect for the physical and cultural heritage," said Marín. “The Dialogue has been such a success that we can't that this be the first and final step and Tourism Barcelona and the ITR will make sure the commitments made at the Forum are met," he added.

Iwand, as the head of one of the largest tour operators in the world spoke about various controversial issues like the proliferations of cheap flights and the uncivil behavior of some of the people using such offers. " If we want to democratize tourism so that everyone can travel we should channel the requests and inform the client of how to behave well in the destination,“ said Iwand. The Declaration of New Challenges written by the Spanish Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism states that “training and professionalism are main tools in the reorientation of the life cycle of destination spots and tourist products"

The Crisis in Spain
In regards to the crisis in Spain and the role of tour operators, accused of promoting alternative destinations like Turkey and Tunisia, Iwand admitted that, “Spain has lost part of the market." He also pondered over whether or not the Spanish tourism industry is willing to "fight" to maintain their clients' loyalty. “In order to do so clients must be convinced of the quality/price ratio.” he said reproachfully and warned that, "The sector can't survive based on short stays and low prices."

In relation to the areas damaged by the tourism infrastructure, Marin said that the sector will repair the damage and not "generate slash and burn policies." He admitted that the Dialogue brought the future to the limelight. “We can't go beyond admissible levels of risk. It's the lesson we have learned from the degradation and eventual fall of many destinations."

Tuki defended the limit of 21,000 yearly visitors to Rapa Nui. “We're a World Heritage Site so fragile that the only wayto maintain it is by controlling the amount of people who visit." In this context of this quest to find a middle ground between tourism and respect for cultural diversity Farina announced that next month in Brazil the International Forum on Tourism for Peace and Sustainable Development begins. The event will also be held in 2005 and 2006 and its objective is to continue with the actions begun at the Forum Barcelona 2004 in order to close the circle at the next edition of the event.