The weekend Elyx is spending World Tourism Day in Spain! The country’s capital of Madrid is home to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which is the UN agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
On arrival in this vibrant Spanish city, the UN digital ambassador is warmly welcomed by the UNWTO staff and showed around their headquarters. The team explains that there is huge potential of tourism for sustainable development. As the Secretary-General observed in a message for World Tourism Day, tourism can not only help alleviate poverty and foster inclusive socio-economic development, it can also promote intercultural exchange and can be a powerful drive in the protection of cultural and natural heritage. This is why the theme for this year’s world tourism day is ‘one billion tourists one billion opportunities’ and aims to stress the capacity of the sector to promote these social, economic and sustainable benefits.
Illustrating the draw of cultural landmarks, Elyx visits many of the historical landmarks in Madrid, including the Puerta de Alcalá monument in the Plaza de la Independencia. The UNWTO team advises Elyx to visit Barcelona next and see the pioneering architectural works of Antoni Gaudí.
Elyx takes the high speed train to the colorful coastal city and learns that Gaudí is the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Infact, Elyx learns that UNESCO has classified seven of his works as World Heritage Sites. Gaudí’s masterpiece, la Sagrada Família, is of course on the list. The project was started in 1882 and the church is still under construction! (Did you know that this basilica is the main tourist destination in Spain, attracting around 3 million visitors a year?)
The Parc Güell next is a ‘must see’, and another example of Gaudí accomplishments. It is located on Carmel Hill, which Elyx is told was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
After walking amidst the highly symbolic and creative structures of the park, Elyx pauses on the main terrace with its long and colorful bench in the form of a sea serpent, to enjoy a breathtaking view over the city. The perfect end to this amazing trip!