Held under the theme ‘Gastronomy Tourism: Promoting Rural Tourism and Regional Development’, the Forum will take place 31 October – 2 November 2021 in Bruges, Belgium.
The event will focus on the contribution of gastronomy tourism to social and economic integration. It will also highlight its untapped potential for job creation, regional cohesion and sustainable growth. Building on UNWTO’s work on advancing innovation across the tourism sector, the Forum also represents a unique opportunity for experts from across the growing field of gastronomy tourism to share new ideas and best practices and place the two sectors at the center of plans for recovery.
Gastronomy continues to prove its ability to help destinations diversify and to stimulate economic development in destinations all around the world. In order to welcome and connect participants from around the world, the Forum will be held in a hybrid format. This way, delegates meeting in the Concertgebouw of Bruges will be joined virtually by participants from every global region via a special online platform.
UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili said: “There is no better time than now to re-shape the future for food and tourism. Gastronomy continues to prove its ability to help destinations diversify and to stimulate economic development in destinations all around the world. This is especially true for rural communities where it can help preserve the identity and authenticity of local traditions.”
Joxe Mari Aizega, director of the Basque Culinary Center, remarked: “We are currently in a particularly challenging and unique time, and rural communities, innovation and creativity will be key to transition successfully towards a new scenario. That is the reason why it is necessary to increase the contribution of the entire value chain of gastronomy for the future, generating a suitable institutional framework through specific policies.”
Flemish minister of tourism, Zuhal Demir said: “We are very much looking forward to welcome participants, both live and online, to explore culinary Bruges during the Forum in November. This is a great opportunity for destinations to exchange experiences facing challenging times and putting gastronomy and tourism at the centre of recovery plans. Flanders, as one of Europe’s gastronomic hubs, is ready to lead the way for a sustainable future of gastronomy tourism.”
The Forum has been co-organized by UNWTO and the BCC since 2015 with the aim of promoting the exchange of experiences between experts in tourism and gastronomy, identify good practices and promote gastronomy tourism as a driver of sustainable development.