Continuing Education Main Headline

IFTM again partners with UNWTO to provide training to ASEAN officials from UNWTO Member States

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese
The role of cuisine and of meetings as elements in sustainable tourism featured in a recent programme by IFTM’s Global Centre for Tourism Education and Training, in cooperation with UNWTO. The training event drew in 14 tourism officials from UNWTO Member States within the ASEAN countries. The certificate ceremony for participants was attended by UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili

The IFTM Global Centre for Tourism Education and Training organised last month a training programme on the link between, on one hand, the meetings industry and the gastronomy sector, and, on the other, sustainable tourism development. The course was held in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and targeted representatives from tourism ministries and national tourism organisations from countries in ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – that are also members of UNWTO. Additionally, in attendance were industry representatives and scholars from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The programme, themed “Leveraging the Meetings Industry and Gastronomy to Champion the Agenda of Sustainable Tourism Development”, was the latest in a series of training courses offered by IFTM and UNWTO via a partnership that began in 2016. September’s course was the 15th in the series, and marked the return of face-to-face training in Macao, China, following the easing earlier this year of travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The last few IFTM-UNWTO training programmes had been carried out in online format only.

“We were so excited to have the training in-person back, as this is more powerful than in online format,” says UNWTO’s Director of the Regional Department for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Harry Hwang. He was in Macao, China to  oversee the programme. Joining him for the certificate-presentation ceremony was the Secretary-General of UNWTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili.

Mr. Hwang states that the IFTM-UNWTO series of training programmes is due to continue. UNWTO got “some very positive feedback from participants” on this latest course, he says.

A novelty of this year’s training programme was it being held in conjunction with the 10th edition of the Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF). After 3 days of training as part of the course – from September 18 to 20 – participants took part in the GTEF sessions on the following 2 days. The Forum promotes the global sustainable development of the tourism industry, and is organised by the Macao Special Administrative Region Government in collaboration with UNWTO.

The overall six-day training programme concluded with a technical tour to some of Macao’s integrated resorts.

Valuable insights

IFTM President Dr. Fanny Vong Chuk Kwan highlights the suitability of Macao as a platform to share insights on, and experiences regarding, the role of the meetings industry and the gastronomy sector in promoting sustainable tourism development. The region is a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, and was honoured in August with the title “Best Convention City in Asia” at the M&C Asia Stella Awards 2023, linked to prestigious trade magazine M&C Asia.

“The training programme provided a great opportunity for representatives from ASEAN countries to understand more about tourism in Macao, and China as whole,” she says.

Prof. Zhang Xiaoming, from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong Province, was one of the guest speakers on the programme. He says it is important for decision-makers in the tourism sector to understand that tourism is no longer just about leisure; an industry can be developed around attractions such as events.

“Some places are not that suitable for leisure tourism, but are good for hosting meetings,” he says. The scholar adds that effective policymaking is key for success: policies should make use of the competitive advantages of a particular place or country.

Mr. Sereiroath Kim from Cambodia was one of the participants in the latest IFTM-UNWTO training programme. As Director of the Tourism Accommodation, Food & Beverage Management Department of the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, he says what he learned from the course will be very useful to him. Participants “shared insights about special cases” related to each of their countries, the “challenges they encountered”, and “good practices implemented to keep tourism sustainable,” he recalls.

Another participant in the programme was Mr. Arya Galih Anindita, Deputy Director for Gastronomy Tourism Development at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia. He says all three goals he had set for his participation in the training programme were surpassed. “I wanted to gain additional insight from the international guest speakers; meet tourism partners from other countries and learn from them while also sharing what we have achieved [in Indonesia]; and lastly, of course, to enjoy Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.”