Today, Friday July 14th, Adeje celebrated the official inauguration of the 25th Summer University, a joint initiative of the Adeje council and the University of La Laguna (ULL). Given the anniversary it was, in the words of the Adeje mayor, José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga, an “historic moment” in the borough’s history.
“Today we recognise that that the Adeje Summer University has been one of the backbones of what is the south of the island today”, given the development of what he referred to as intelligent tourism. He commented on the fact that the university had continued even during the years of the economic crisis and today was as much in demand as ever. He added that the summer university had the capacity to adapt and meet the changing needs, “thanks to those who we have placed our trust in, the rectors and vice-rectors, who have recognised the need to open up the university portals to today’s society and bring classes outside the traditional campus”.
This has been a project that has borne fruit, he added, for both the council and the university, pointing out that tomorrow is also the graduation ceremony for the second batch of Tourism diploma students who have undertaken their course in the Adeje campus.
The ULL rector Antonio Martinón, also marked the achievement of the 25th anniversary and the 225th of the University of La Laguna, underlined by the strong commitment to academic activities beyond the walls of the university. The mayor and the rector also paid tribute to the University rectors and vice-rectors during the 25 years of the summer university. “The presence of six rectors reflects the fact that this achievement is the not simply the work of one person, but something that is profound, that demands continuity and institutional commitment”, said the rector.
Carlos Vogeler, executive director for member relations of the World Tourism Organisation, giving the inaugural address, told the audience that tourism was now the third highest contributor in world exports and that on average today more than 1,200 million people travel internationally every year, with the expectation that that would rise to 1,800 million in coming years. Tourism, he said, “creates one in every 11 jobs worldwide”. He congratulated the Adeje council and the University of La Laguna on their respective anniversaries of 25 and 225 years and welcomed the course themes this year of culture, health, sports and the economy and, of course, tourism. “Adeje is today a symbol of innovation and development and an excellent tourism reference point globally”, he said,
Vogeler said that tourism was an industry that could respond well to shifts in the international economy, and was able to offer employment creation and development within a sustainable development model. He also said it was important that the reaction to terrorist attacks designed to shut down borders (attacks on beaches, airports, hotels) mustn’t achieve their aim. In fact, he said, the industry shows no signs of slowing down and is becoming a tool for inclusion, offering opportunities to improve the living conditions for many people working in the industry, allowing them avenues out of poverty.
“In times of volatility the tourism industry is showing its enormous capacity for resistance. One of the challenges is to maintain the balance between competitive and responsible tourism, so that tourism develops in an ordered and sustainable manner, in economic, social and environmental terms”. Sustainable tourism was, he said, no longer a choice, it was an obligation. He stated that he would like to see the promotion of a platform for safe travel, developing ways of risk management and reduction.
“We are living in a changing world, with a more demanding tourist, a tourist better prepared, looking for experiences. We cannot sit back in our comfort zone and hope they come to us, without leading the movement for change to new directions.” New technology offers us the change to enrich the experience of the client, the client who has increasing access to better and more information.
Another big challenge is the ethical question for public and private businesses. The World Tourism Organisation has a world-wide code of ethics but what is also needed, Vogeler says, is an adhesion code, an international treaty, which will be presented at the next UNWTO assembly in China in September.