Mayors of the world unite to meet the challenges of mass tourism
LISBON (Reuters) – As big cities struggle to meet the challenges of mass tourism, mayors around the world gathered in Lisbon and adopted a first-of-its-kind declaration to ensure the growing sector benefits both visitors and locals.
Mayors and vice-mayors of 16 cities including Lisbon, Barcelona, ââParis, Sao Paulo and Seoul pledged on Friday to put sustainability at the heart of the tourism industry by using new technologies to build âcities for allâ.
The statement comes at a time when low-cost airlines have created tourism booms in many major cities, but at the same time sparked protests from locals who have been evicted due to soaring house prices. due to short term rentals.
“We are convinced that innovation can lead to many solutions to the problematic problems of urban tourism development,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization.
The statement highlighted the contribution of tourism to the economies of cities, but it also recognized some of the challenges, including pressure on infrastructure, relations between visitors and residents and fair working conditions.
“Lisbon needs a strong economy and tourism is part of it, but we also need a quality of life, public services adapted to an increasing number of visitors and we need a city where there is access fundamental rights, including housing, “said the mayor of Lisbon. Fernando Medina told reporters.
Residents say they are being kicked out of their city as private developers turn homes into luxury Airbnb properties, hotels and apartments.
Airbnb and other private companies were present at the talks, the World Tourism Organization said.
Medina acknowledged that there is a link between housing costs and tourism, saying that real estate rental platforms put some pressure on cities.
Medina said the city council, alongside the government, was working on regulations to control the phenomenon, which particularly affects historic areas. âWe don’t want to lose the diversity of our historic neighborhoods,â he said.
Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Axel Bugge and Alison Williams