IFTM online training programme in collaboration with UNWTO Capacity Building for Sustainable Tourism in Island Countries

IFTM online training programme in collaboration with UNWTO

The Global Centre of Tourism Education and Training of the Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), in collaboration with United Nations World Tourism Organisation, held its first training programme this year on 1, 3 and 4 June 2021, which comprised three webinars based on the theme of “Capacity Building for Sustainable Tourism in Island Countries”. This online training programme focused on destination management, Festivals and Events, and Sustainable Tourism Product Development.

This training programme was designed for decision-makers from UNWTO member state ministries and administrations of island nations across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, plus participants from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area who were also invited to join. Twenty-five participants from the five member states, namely Fiji, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Sri Lanka as well as three from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area enrolled and participated in the programme. The training programme had also attracted about fifty-three views from a tourism audience from around the world, with observer participants from Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Vietnam and Macao. During the training, Mr. Harry Hwang, Director of Regional Department of Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO, and Prof. John Ap, Director of the Global Centre for Tourism Education and Training of Macao Institute for Tourism Studies highlighted the critical importance of sustainability for island countries which face the challenges of global warming and managing their destinations with limited resources. The presentations by IFTM scholars, Dr. Ubaldino Couto and Dr. Hazel Xu, featured festivals and events for the first time in the IFTM-UNWTO training programme. They highlighted the role of having a “festivalisation” strategy and the contribution of festivals and special events in enhancing tourist experience, respectively. Besides presentations from IFTM scholars, IFTM also invited other presenters to contribute to the programme: Prof. Alastair Morrison, a leading tourism author and scholar, highlighted the importance of distinguishing the difference between vision and mission with the former being future focused and the latter focused on operations. Ms. Betty Fok, Head of Marketing from the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) shared the recovery measures undertaken by MGTO to reach out to the Mainland Chinese market through its Macao Week promotions in various Mainland cities and highlighted the importance of collaboration. Ms. Virginia Fernandez-Trapare presenting UNWTO provided information about the global tourism plastics initiative, which “aims to drive the tourism sector towards a circular economy for plastics - and workstreams on food loss and waste reduction, bio-diversity protection and climate action.”

When asked to comment on the key takeaways obtained from the programme, Mr. Robert Ah Sam, Manager of Planning and Development, Samoa Tourism Authority commented that “The programme was very useful in enhancing capacity and knowledge in relation to destination marketing and product development. The focus on sanitizing measures and reducing plastics was very interesting, and the use of festivals and events as attractions for destinations. What I have learnt from this programme will be very useful as we prepare our destination for the re-opening of borders and the new normalcy for tourism post COVID-19”.

The Global Centre of Tourism Education and Training Centre was set up in 2016 following a memorandum of understanding signed between the Macao SAR Government and UNWTO. The agreement covered topics including the enhancement of human capital for the tourism industry and the promotion of sustainable tourism. The Centre has hosted more than 34 programmes with around 431 participants from 34 countries and regions who have been involved in the Centre’s training activities.

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