Nava Castro highlights the pro-European and sustainable value of the Way of St. James on World Tourism Day

Brussels (Belgium), 27 September 2017

In Brussels today, Turismo de Galicia Director Nava Castro highlighted the vital role of the Way of St. James as a link between our autonomous community and pro-European sentiment, identifying the pilgrimage route to Santiago as one of Galicia’s main strengths as a tourist destination.

Nava Castro made these statements at the European Parliament, where she took part in events commemorating World Tourism Day, organized by the legislative body of the European Union with the aim of considering future European strategy to improve the competitiveness of the tourism industry in the global context.

In her talk, Nava Castro presented the responsible model of tourism management followed in Galicia as a high-quality, diversified and sustainable destination. She underscored the role of the Way of St. James as one of the main strengths for increasing the destination’s international presence, noting the work done by the autonomous community government to guarantee its conservation through the Way of St. James Master and Strategic Plan. This plan reinforces sustainable tourism development of the route.

Commitment to cultural tourism

Nava Castro also noted Galicia’s commitment to cultural tourism, supported by the European cultural routes – six of which include Galicia – stating that they demonstrate ‘enrichment and exchange and foster awareness of a common European identity’. She made mention of the Viking Routes, the European Route of Cistercian Abbeys, the Prehistoric Rock Art Trails and the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns, the last being an area in which, as Castro pointed out, Galicia is a European leader thanks to the enormous potential of the province of Ourense.

As regards the challenge of conquering new markets, the Turismo de Galicia director highlighted the importance of the European Union–China Year of Tourism as a ‘great opportunity to explore this market, learn to attract visitors and offer them the best experience’. As she noted, this is something on which Galician authorities have already made progress, with an institutional visit to the Asian country several months ago, strengthening ties and confirming China’s interest in Europe. Castro also mentioned Brazil and India as other markets with which work could be done.

Round table discussion

The round table discussion in which the Turismo de Galicia director took part was headed by the chair of the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education, Petra Kammerevert. It also included Isabella del Monte, member of the European Parliament and the Committee on Transport and Tourism; the regional tourism minister for the Emilia Romagna region, Andrea Corsini; the vice-chairman and secretary-general of the Global Tourism Economy Forum, P. Ho; the senior director of strategy and investor relations for Ctrip, Z. Xiaolu; Eduardo Santander, the executive director of the European Travel Commission; the vice-chairman of the Altagamma Foundation, Armando Branchini; and the president of the Dimore Storiche Italiane Association, Gaddo della Gherardesca.

Also invited to the event were the major of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro; the deputy-mayor of Budapest, Alexandra Szalay-Bobrovniczky; the mayor of Constanța, Romania, D. Fagadau; and the chairman of the China Tourism Academy, B. Dai.

An increasingly competitive destination

The Turismo director’s trip to Brussels was rounded out by strengthening European ties. It is included in the goals of the Galicia 2020 Tourism Strategy: to continue building the global identity of Galicia and Europe and intensifying promotion in new markets and existing international markets.

In this regard, Galicia is working to establish itself as a leading destination with an eye to preparing for the emergence of new tourist destinations, taking advantage of the industry’s potential and transforming challenges into opportunities. This comes at a time when, as explained at the meeting, international tourist numbers are expected to double between now and 2030, and Europe, with its unique cultural, scenic and nature heritage, is working to attract a large portion of this new demand.