The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has welcomed the Yucatán Tourism Observatory into its International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO). This move will help Yucatán manage tourism development in a responsible and sustainable manner, taking a holistic view in developing adequate and innovative strategies for “rethinking” tourism.
The Yucatán Tourism Observatory was established in 2018 with the goal of generating and managing information around tourism development. This work has identified key challenges and opportunities, which have led to the design of relevant policies aimed at supporting the destination’s overall sustainable development and increasing its competitiveness. Joining the INSTO Network will provide additional support for these efforts.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “In this time of rethinking tourism, measurement is increasingly important as it provides a better understanding of where a destination stands and where it wants to go. The INSTO network provides an opportunity to work together to ensure that tourism is a tool that contributes to sustainable development. We are very pleased to welcome Yucatán as a new member.”
Yucatán is home to the Maya people, and boasts an extensive coastline, lush forests and jungles, and numerous cenotes, which are sinkholes created by collapsed limestone rocks that expose groundwater. These natural resources, along with others, attracted 2.1 million overnight tourists in 2019, two-thirds of whom were domestic tourists. Tourism GDP accounts for 11.1% of Yucatán’s overall GDP.
The Secretariat of Tourism of the State of Yucatán (SEFOTUR) has set a vision for 2030 in which tourism is widely recognized as a key sector that benefits Yucatán society, and is conducted in consensus with industry actors and with a full insertion of society in the benefits of tourism. Environmental priorities for the region include climate action, ecosystem restoration and conservation, water quality preservation, and sustainable energy supply, as well as the need to create a culture of sustainability within Yucatán society.
Yucatan’s Secretary of Tourism, Michelle Fridman Hirsch, stated, “We are very pleased to have been enrolled in the UNWTO’s INSTO network, as we become the second Observatory in Mexico to be part of this network, which will allow us to better evaluate the impact of tourism in Yucatan and contribute with better data to global sustainable tourism”.
Yucatán’s Tourism Observatory will monitor the 11 mandatory INSTO key areas for tourism sustainability, including tourism seasonality, employment, economic benefits of the destination, energy management, water management, wastewater management, solid waste management, climate action, accessibility, local satisfaction, and governance.
The UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO) was created in 2004 with the main objectives of supporting the continuous improvement of sustainability and resilience in the tourism sector through systematic, timely and regular monitoring of tourism performance, and connecting dedicated destinations to exchange and improve knowledge and understanding about destination-wide resource use and the responsible management of tourism. With the addition of Yucatán, the INSTO network continues to expand and support efforts towards sustainable tourism development around the world.