Tourism as an instrument for mutual understanding and sustainable development is at the centre of the international university project “The Value of Human Rights on the Camino de Santiago: Harnessing the Power of Tourism to Promote Cross-Cultural Dialogue and the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”. Over five days, students specializing in a variety of fields, from twenty universities in 13 countries, will travel 100 km on different routes of the Camino de Santiago, putting into practice the principles of sustainable tourism they have previously analysed.
The project, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with the Helsinki España University Network and the Compostela Group of Universities, identifies the Camino de Santiago as a prime example that embodies the values that arise from sustainable tourism and dialogue between cultures. “The Value of Human Rights on the Camino de Santiago” brings together students from universities in Spain, Poland, Sudan, Mexico and the United States, among many others. This cultural diversity gathered along a cultural route with a common goal highlights the potential of tourism for cross-cultural understanding and sustainable development.
“From increasing equality and protecting communities to sustainable land use, cultural routes can be a catalyst for improving sustainability in our sector,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a message addressed to the participants. “Throughout the Camino, you will see how tourism can transform communities, generating income and preserving local heritage and culture,” he added.
Between January and March, the participants worked on an online study focusing on the key principles and requirements for the development of sustainable tourism, as well as ethical principles and responsibility on the Camino de Santiago. From March 17 to 22, the Project moves on to the practical phase. The idea is to walk the talk: divided into four groups, the participants walk for five days covering a distance of 100 km on four different routes of the Camino de Santiago, finishing their journey in Santiago de Compostela. The objective is to compare the sustainability challenges studied previously with the reality along the Camino, in order to make necessary adjustments or to identify new sustainable tourism products.
As one of the emblematic cultural routes of the world, the Camino de Santiago is positioned as a vehicle for mutual understanding through the practice of sustainable tourism and endows the project with the necessary international relevance in order to replicate it and train tourism professionals in different parts of the world.
The Project will culminate with an International University Forum in Santiago de Compostela, at which the conclusions of the online work and the tourism products will be presented, and which will approve the Declaration of Rectors on the Value of Human Rights on the Camino de Santiago.