The World Congress of Social Tourism took place in San Paulo in Brazil from the 7th til the 10th of October and was organized by SESC (Serviço Social do Comércio), in collaboration with OITS, the International Organization for Social Tourism.
Entitled “Unity in the Diversity”, the World Congress of Social Tourism welcomed 300 participants from all over the world: leaders of associations and unions, representatives of public authorities and institutions to promote tourism, tour operators, researchers, students, co-workers, journalists. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the European Commission and the Brazilian national authorities but also other speakers coming from 30 countries have attended to the congress.
The main issues addressed were tourism and development; the access to holidays; the financial support to help people to go on holidays; tourism for seniors; the effects of the new technologies in tourism sector; the accessibility; the job insecurity; the collaborative tourism and its interrelationships with the social tourism.
Much attention has been given to the issues regarding fair tourism and community-based tourism, which two specific working sessions were dedicated.
Maurizio Davolio, President of AITR and EARTH, intervened during the session on community-based tourism. Fernando Mandri Bellot (Spain), operating in Mexico and Ecuador, and the Brazilian Mariana Madureira, who created a network of community-based tourism in Brazil participated to the session together with representatives of ATES (Association du Tourisme Equitable et Solidaire) and Tourism Concern.
During the session, Mr Davolio had the opportunity to present community based tourism projects, which have been founded by the cooperatives “Briganti di Cerreto” and “Valle dei Cavalieri”.
OITS General Assembly
The Congress was preceded by the assembly of OITS, which has elected a new Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.
The president of OITS for the next four years will be the French Jean Marc Mignon, who is confirmed in his role. The Vice Presidents are the Canadian Sonia Vaillancourt, the Belgian Alain Clauwert, President of the socialist trade union FGTB, the Italian Claudio Nardocci, President of the National Union of Pro Loco and the Vice President of the Italian Federation of Tourism Association. The Members of the Executive committee have been elected as followed: Maurizio Davolio, from Legacoop tourism, AITR and EARTH, Tourism representative of the International Cooperative Alliance; the Belgian Jacques Perrault, the new Treasurer from Belgium Eric Woulters, the Malian Bassirou Diarra, and Fabrizio Pozzoli, ACI and Federcultura Tourism and Sport, elected for the presidency of OITS Europe. Yves Godin has been confirmed as Secretary General.
The number of adhesions of OITS is growing as it has reached 150 members, representing 30 countries; from which 110 members are Europeans (15 countries); 27 members are Americans (6 countries); 12 Africans (9 countries); only one partner from Asia.
The European section in OITS is going to be strengthened, with the new director Luc Gobin, coming from the Tourism Office of Flanders.
The Presidency of OITS Europe, headed by Fabrizio Pozzoli, President of the social cooperative Bethania and executive of the Federcultura Tourism Sport and Tourism of ACI, is an important and very promising news.
OITS is growing regarding their activities and their relationships. Indeed, the European Commission has recently approved a project called SenTur, which aims to promote tourism for seniors. This new project has been added to the STEEP project that led to the creation of the portal eCalypso.
Also the communication has been considerably improved, due to the creation of a new website, and the launch of the new newsletter.
The Alliance is operating successfully on training and research about the social and solidarity tourism, composed by a group of teachers’ university and scholars who are taking part in OITS.