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UNWTO Awards Celebrate the Best in Accessible and Sustainable Tourism

UNWTO Awards Celebrate the Best in Accessible and Sustainable Tourism

Saint Petersburg (Russia) – September 12, 2019 ( – Cities making big strides forward in sustainability and accessible tourism were the big winners in St Petersburg last night. The Spanish city of San Sebastian was awarded the 2019 World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) prize for Public Policy and Governance at a ceremony attended by leaders of the global tourism sector in St Petersburg, Russian Federation.

Held during the 23rd Session of the UNWTO General Assembly, the 15th edition of the awards aimed to celebrate the very best examples of tangible and sustainable improvements in policy, processes, and governance. Alongside cities and regional authorities, NGOs and private sector enterprises are also welcome to be considered for an award.

For this latest round of awards, initiatives from Canada, Colombia, India, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Philippines made it to through to the final shortlist. A jury committee was made up of eight tourism experts from the public sector, private companies and universities, announced St Petersburg San Sebastian’s “Love San Sebastian, Live Donastia” initiative as the big winner.

In the Enterprises category, “Community Impact by V Resorts”, an initiative of V Resorts under the aegis of Bliss Inns Ltd, India, took home the top award. Also in St Petersburg, Fundación Once from Spain won the award for best NGO.

Announcing the awards, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “These Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism celebrate our sector at its very best. I congratulate San Sebastian for showing how tourism can be effectively managed to be sustainable and an effective tool for promoting and protecting local cultural heritage.”

Portugal takes first Accessible Tourism Destinations top award

This 15th edition of the UNWTO Awards was also notable as it marked the launch of the Accessible Tourism Destinations (ATD) initiative. Organized by UNWTO in partnership with the Spanish NGO ONCE, this initiative recognizes destinations that are proactively working to make tourism more accessible to everyone, regardless of physical or mental ability.

Turismo Portugal was awarded the first international distinction of Accessible Tourism Destination (ATD2019), launched by UNWTO and the ONCE Foundation to recognize those destinations that are making laudable efforts so that they can be enjoyed by all tourists, regardless of their physical, sensory or cognitive abilities. In the last decade, Portugal has made outstanding efforts to make its tourism infrastructure, services and products more accessible nation-wide.

Destino Barcelona (Spain) was conferred a special mention as an exceptional urban tourism destination, while the city of Thrissur in Kerala (India) received a special mention as an emerging destination on the global accessible tourism market. The Expert Committee, gathering some of the most acknowledged international experts in universal accessibility in tourism and Design for All, included representatives of destinations, consumers, travel and tourism industries, Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and international bodies.