“For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length–and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.” Carlos Castaneda

Overwhelming two days spent in Santiago De Compostela…

It was not only a great learning and sharing opportunity, it was also a mosaic of colourful  emotions inspired by the location of the seminar.

On the 16th and 17th November 2017, I attended the “European Travel Commission (ETC) and World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) joint International Seminar on Transnational Tourism Themes and Routes” in Santiago de Compostela.


It was an amazing gathering for the launch of the brand new ETC-UNWTO Handbook on Marketing Transnational Tourism Themes & Routes with a very diverse audience from PhD students to tourism experts in both private and public sectors.

We were engaged and actively participating in the sessions with panel of experts addressing different questions. It was informative and also an unique platform to showcase best-practices linked to: 1) different destinations, such as Ireland, Latin America, Spain; 2) different themes, such as cycle tourism, The Silk Road, Wild Atlantic Way.

We had members from the Institutions, such as European Commission, Council of Europe, The Galicia Region.

You can find the detailed sessions hereProgramme.

Peter de Wild, the President of the European Travel Commission (ETC) opened the seminar with a clear overview on the importance of this gathering linked to the content of the Handbook.

“In recent years we have seen how Tourism Themes and Routes have gained prominence as leisure travel has become more affordable with tenth of millions visitors willing to visit more than one destination in their trip.

From a transnational prospective Themes and Routes create countless opportunities for destinations to enhance synergies and strengthen cross-border collaborations. Furthermore it has the potential to offer visitors an immersed and unique experience through a kaleidoscopic offer available in different countries in Europe and other world Regions.

ETC and UNWTO acknowledge the importance of transnational collaboration in tourism as competition has become increasingly regional rather than national.

Today with the launch of The Handbook of marketing Transnational Tourism Themes and Routes, we seek to support the work of Tourism Authorities, managers and experts in this direction. The Handbook consists of current landscape of themes and tourism routes in Europe and other regions, and more importantly provide a practical guidance on the implementation and management of themed tourism.

And speaking from the heart,…..since tourism is about meeting people and broadening horizons, it is therefore something you could speak from the heart…

The transnational tourism themes and routes is very crucial to the development of tourism for the next decade to come. From an European point of view, it is something that can bring together our Continent. The Tourism Industry has the historical assignment to help creating the European Identity, from Istanbul to Ireland, from St. Petersburg to Santiago de Compostela. 

I do believe that traveling and bringing countless people from different nations, people from different corners of the world TOGETHER, can create THAT UNIQUE BOND.

Santiago in itself is a place that brings Europe together in every terms of the word. It is also the place where all of the pilgrims, and people from all over the world come here to worship, to find one another, to discover that life is more than the material things, is more than having a house, having a car, having wealth……It is also being able to go places, meet people, share stories and why not,….hug St. James.”

This was an inspiring way to set the scene and prepare us for an exciting two days!

You can watch the video herePeter de Wilde.

Zhu Shanzhong, the Executive Director World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) followed the lead with his view on the value of different Institutions cooperating together to an unique framework document such as the Handbook.
“The Launch of the Handbook aims at supporting tourism stakeholders in the development and management of transnational themes and routes. The transnational scope of these routes requires a high level of organisational and diplomatic nature, as in the example of the Silk Road. Routes manages must interact with varies stakeholders that may not always share same interests or operate on the same policy level.

Route managers are confronted with members of laws and regulations that reflect a set of ideals or cultural understanding that also may not be similar.

And yet, regardless the acknowledged complexity of these transnational routes, they represent the future of our tourism Industry and as such, provide a viable tool for globalization. Issues such climate changes, travel facilitation are highly complex ones that cannot be addressed by individual actors at all.

Its for us to foster a responsible sustainable and internationally competitive tourism in the most efficient and most effective way….

…Accounting for 10% of global GPD, 7% of world’s exports, and as many as 1 every 10 jobs, the tourism sector has become an economical asset in the global factor of stability. Eight consecutive years of uninterrupted growth since 2009, the year of the economical crisis, with figures of 1.2 millions visitors crossing international borders every year. A huge figure of success that demands an equal level of awareness and responsibility.

If we are to ensure a sustainable environment for generation to come, if we are to maintain that natural and cultural heritage that has made us who we are, and if we are to secure a range of prosperity for all, we must interiorize that collaborative mindset and be willing to share responsibilities across borders.

Over the next two days we will have an opportunities to learn about many interesting transnational initiatives and routes on how to make the world a better place.”

You can watch the video here: Zhu Shanzhong

Maria Nava Castro Dominguez, Secretary General Turismo de Galicia was next to welcome us to Santiago de Compostela. It was evident that such warm welcomes are something that Santiago de Compostela’s population has been doing for decades….

“This seminar falls into a very special time for Galicia, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago as the first European Cultural Itinerary. Only in 2017, 300.000 pilgrims with 179 different nationalities came to Santiago.

Santiago has been receiving pilgrims for almost one thousand years now….”

You can watch the video here: Maria Nava Castro Dominguez


Tour of Galicia over dinner

Do not miss this amazing story: The Way

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