As the Summit begins in Sorrento, Italy, His Holiness urged young participants to make the most of the rare opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to build a brighter future for tourism and their home communities.
“The experiences that you will make [in Sorrento] will be enshrined in your memories,” remarked Pope Francis. “This is how you will grow and will be prepared to assume more important roles. I wish that you will be messengers of hope and of rebirth for the future. I send you my blessings and my greetings.”
His Holiness applauded the young participants’ commitment to peace and unity. Around 130 students from 60 countries will participate in a series of workshops, debates, and discussions at the Summit, which is a first for the industry and UNWTO as it stresses youth empowerment and education and training. Participants range in age from 12 to 18, and a Ukrainian delegation is also present.
The Global Youth Tourism Summit celebrates and promotes the role that youth will play in influencing our industry in the future.
Global youth empowerment
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili elaborates, “The Global Youth Tourism Summit celebrates and promotes the role that young people will play in shaping our sector in the years to come. By giving them the knowledge and the tools they need to lead the sector forwards, participants can act on Pope Francis’s welcome words and become ambassadors of tourism for peace and solidarity.”
Since 1975, the Holy See has retained observer status at the UNWTO. This relationship has been long-standing and fruitful. In 2019, Secretary-General Pololikashvili paid an official visit to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis, and he used the occasion to emphasise the importance of tourism in alleviating poverty and promoting peace.
In addition to the support and participation of a number of UNWTO Ambassadors and industry leaders, including Ministers from every worldwide area, the first Global Youth Tourism Summit will also be supported and attended by a number of UNWTO Ambassadors. The week-long event will also feature a fake UNWTO General Assembly that will allow young people to debate the topic of tourism and propose innovative solutions for the future of the sector within the context of the UN 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).