‘Gastronomy Tourism for People and Planet: Innovate, Empower and Preserve’ was the theme as national and international experts met in Nara for the 7th UNWTO Forum on Gastronomy Tourism.

Organized by UNWTO and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), the Forum provides a platform to advance the contribution of gastronomy tourism to empower women and youth, and to support sustainability. This edition counted on the participation of more than 450 delegates from 30 countries alongside over 1,000 online participants from 125 countries over the two days of the event.

Opening the Forum, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “This year’s Forum represents a unique opportunity for experts to share their best practices and enhance the role of Gastronomy Tourism in talent, sustainability, innovation, and social inclusion, and highlight its importance for regional and rural development.”

Joxe Mari Aizega, General Manager of the Basque Culinary Center, added: “Gastronomy faces many challenges, but we also have many opportunities. It is a diverse and wide sector, a value chain that includes production, hospitality, tourism, and restaurants. It also integrates cultural, social, and economic dimensions. This forum addressed the complexity of the gastronomy tourism sector, and it also reflected its enormous potential.”

The Governor of the Nara Prefecture Shogo Arai said: “I believe that what we discussed here is very important for sustainable development of global and regional societies. I am inspired by the exchanges of new ideas and insights that the Forum provided.”

To ensure that gastronomy tourism can serve as a leverage to promote women and youth empowerment, participants highlighted the need for providing better working conditions and engagement to attract and retain talent. Alongside this, the Forum also focused on the best ways of designing gastronomy tourism strategies and practices that ensure the sustainable use of resources, the promotion of local products and know-how, and on responsible consumption.

Special emphasis was placed on the need to reduce food waste as a means to support a more sustainable global food system. On this occasion, UNWTO launched the public consultation for the Global Roadmap on Food Waste Reduction in Tourism, developed within the framework of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme, to enable consistent action and enhance circularity.

Nara was also the host of the 3rd UNWTO Global Gastronomy Startup Competition organized by UNWTO and BCC. Here, six talented entrepreneurs shared solutions for the challenges posed by the Sustainable Development Goals. Byfood from Japan was selected as the winner of a competition that also saw Local Food (Bulgaria), 2492IOneArmenia (Armenia), Tenemos Filo (Colombia), Beyondnext (Republic of Korea) and Soplaya (Italy) shared their innovative proposals.

In this framework, nine companies from Japan signed the Private Sector Commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism in presence of the UNWTO Secretary-General, the Vice-Commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency, the Chief of the UNWTO Regional Support Office for Asia and the Pacific and the Governor of Nara Prefectural Government.

The 2023 Forum will take place in Donostia-San Sebastian, in the Basque Country, Spain. The farewell dinner offered by Basquetour and the Department of Tourism, Trade, and Consumer Affairs of the Basque Government brought Basque gastronomy to Nara by the hands of the Basque chefs Diego Guerrero (board member of Basque Culinary Center and DSTAgE Concept restaurant), Álvaro Garrido (Mina restaurant), and Gorka Txapartegi (Alameda Restaurant).

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