His Holiness urged the young participants to make the most of the exceptional chance to acquire the knowledge and abilities they would need to create a brighter future for tourism and for their local communities as the Summit got under way in Sorrento, Italy.
Pope Francis added: “The experiences that you will make [in Sorrento] will be enshrined in your memories. 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 praised the young participants’ dedication to unity and peace. Around 130 students from 60 different nations will participate in a series of seminars, debates, and discussions for the Summit, a historic first for the industry and for UNWTO as it focuses youth empowerment and education and training. Participants range in age from 12 to 18, and a delegation from Ukraine is among them.
Zurab Pololikashvili, the secretary-general of the UNWTO said: “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”.
The Holy See, which has had observer status with UNWTO since 1975, and the Organization have a long-standing and fruitful partnership. In 2019, Secretary-General Pololikashvili met Pope Francis while on an official trip to the Vatican and used the opportunity to emphasise the critical role that tourism plays in alleviating poverty and fostering peace.
Leaders from the industry, including Ministers from every continent, will support and participate in the inaugural Global Youth Tourism Summit in addition to a number of UNWTO Ambassadors. A mock UNWTO General Assembly will also be part of the week-long event, allowing young people to debate the topic of tourism and propose creative ideas for the industry’s future within the context of the UN 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).