(Mallorca/Spain, 22 January 2008) – High-level executives of several multinational tourism groups based in the Balearic Islands, along with representatives of the Autonomous Government of the Balearic Islands, the World Tourism Organization and the United Nations Global Compact gathered in Mallorca/Spain last week to discuss prospects of a Global Compact Tourism Initiative to promote sustainability in the travel sector. The project was presented within the context of the First Spanish Congress on the Corporate Responsibility of Tourism Companies, held in Palma de Mallorca on 17/18 January and organized by the Government of the Balearic Islands and the European Union.
Francesc Antich, President of the Autonomous Government of the Balearic Islands and Chair of the Euro-Mediterranean Region stressed the willingness of the public authorities of the region to use their “soft power” to promote a global call towards a responsible and sustainable tourism sector. The first stages of the initiative will be convened and facilitated through a partnership of the Global Compact and the Barcelona Center in Support of the Global Compact, together with the World Tourism Organization and the Tour Operators Initiative, hosted by the WTO.
The proposal was well-received by many of the tourism industry executives in attendance, whose groups manage more than 500,000 hotel rooms in in more than 40 countries. Sebastián Escarrer, CEO of Sol Melia Group, signaled his organizations willingness to support this call in a spirit of consensus with other large tourism groups. According to Mr, Escarrer, the initiative is much needed in the sector, and will drive the participation of an increasing number of tourism companies in the UN Global Compact. Although many companies in the sector have developed numerous projects in the areas of environment, social concerns and cultural integration, the main challenge now, as Mr. Escarrer explained, will be to embed these practices into the daily operations of companies.
The UN Global Compact expects to garner further support for the initiative from other tourism companies already participating in the initiative. Already, participating associations such as the Associations of Hotels of Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) have supported the idea of a UN Global Compact Tourism Initiative.