NECSTouR Thematic Conference: “Local-Led Initiatives on Tourism and Cultural Heritage: a Legacy for Europe” + Barcelona Declaration “Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit”

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NECSTouR, in the framework of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, with the support of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3., led a pan-European dialogue on tourism and cultural heritage during the conference entitled LOCAL-LED INITIATIVES ON TOURISM AND CULTURAL HERITAGE: A LEGACY FOR EUROPE in Brussels on October 11th.

The goal of this thematic conference, which is an official side event of the European Week of Regions and cities 2018, was to leverage the positive effects of tourism and cultural heritage on the social cohesion of Europe by revaluing Europe’s cultural heritage and bringing it to life, reinforcing the sense of place and greater understanding, and fostering economic growth and jobs creation.

The session consisted on two roundtables addressing the following topics: “Residents and Visitors: their role in seeking a better balance” and “Heritage and Identity: fostering tourism value creation”. Dr. Nagore Espinosa,  CEO of in2destination, participated as speaker in the first roundtable reflecting into elements that are critical to deepen into residents perception of tourism. One of the main elements highlighted is trust, for which transparency, fluent and honest dialogue with stakeholders, participatory processes and continuous monitoring are needed.

Undoubtedly, both Nagore Espinosa and the other participants in the session, such as Ana Moniche from Andalusian Region, Roberto Bande Ramudo, University of Santiago de Compostela and Caroline Couret, Director of Creative Tourism Network successfully showcased that reinforcing existing good practices and fostering debate on how cultural heritage and tourism initiatives can be beneficial for residents and citizens. In this way, the event also provided lessons learnt to EU regions and cities in order to strengthen the value tourism and cultural heritage that can jointly endeavor in our territories.

Furthermore, during the conference the final version of the Barcelona Declaration “Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit” was presented.

There are innumerable benefits and opportunities to be gained through better cooperation between tourism and cultural heritage. The reinforcement of a common vision and goals by establishing a joint governance model to overcome these shared challenges can not only improve the current situation and reduce the detrimental impacts of tourism, but also generate great opportunities related to innovation, digitalisation, creativity, skills, talent development, and entrepreneurship, among others.

Because of this reason, the Declaration calls for the implementation of five key principles which should be jointly applied in order to make the “Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit” come true:


Dr. Nagore Espinosa and in2destination have already joined the group of entities that support this declaration and its main objectives. Would you like to join us in supporting this cause?

Working Group of Experts on Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism – UNWTO

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Within the framework of the initiative Towards a Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (MST) launched by UNWTO in 2017 and with the support of United Nations Statistics Division, the second meeting of the working group of experts on measuring the sustainability of tourism took place at UNWTO Headquarters (Madrid) on 24 and 25 October 2018.

Dr. Nagore Espinosa, in her double role as CEO of in2destination and INRouTe network expert and coordinator, is part of this group of experts whose aim is to develop an international statistical framework for measuring tourism’s role in sustainable development, including economic, environmental and social dimensions. In fact, measuring sustainable tourism naturally cuts across a range of disciplines and agencies. In advancing the MST statistical framework, an open Working Group of experts was established in order to lead the technical development and support engagement among these key stakeholders.

In this second meeting, numerous issues were addressed, such as employment, including the concept of Green Jobs and the implementation of its measurement, the linking of ecosystem accounting and the economic-environmental accounting system to measure the sustainability of tourism, measurement of social sustainability from the perspective of the residents, and of course the challenge of the different scales when measuring the sustainability of tourism: national, regional, local. The topics were treated based on experiences of regions or countries that are implementing it and share their knowledge as the Philippines, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Canada, Austria, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Argentina, among others.

After this meeting in which many topics were touched, now it’s time to review the advanced documentation again and make contributions from our respective areas of knowledge. From in2destination, it is particularly important to advance at the spatial scales, as well as in the social, territorial and governance measurement of sustainability. In our experience, if the governance dimension is weakened, the rest of the sustainability dimensions are affected. Achieving a common measurement framework for the sustainability of tourism is critical for tourism destinations and businesses in all parts of the world, to measure constantly and have early warning indicators of issues that are brewing and take preventive measures or redirect issues before they worsen.

There is still room for progress, but we are happy to be part of this group of experts, to continue to investigate and contribute.

Here you can expand information on the documentation that was used in the meeting.

Let’s keep measuring and making decisions based on data!!!

Patricia Astrain and her company recircular, one of the women leaders in the 1st Summit of Technological Innovation and Circular Economy.

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The 1st Summit of Technological Innovation and Circular Economy was held on July 6 in Madrid. The participants, who were chosen among 1,957 candidates throughout Spain by the Advanced Leadership Foundation (ALF), enjoyed the opportunity to improve their knowledge among Nobel prizes, world leaders in green economy and sustainable development, and representatives of governments leading current policy and national economies.

The Summit aimed to raise public awareness about how the circular economy and innovation are competitive advantages for companies, institutions, employers and the country as a whole, promoting a more rapid and efficient transition toward a sustainable economic model in Spain. The Summit of Circular Economy and Innovation had as main objective the identification, selection and training of 300 social leaders from each of the 50 provinces of Spain with the most relevant and innovative information in several issues. The leaders were formed by 28 speakers who attended the Summit, of which 20 were men and only 8 women. Undoubtedly, an aspect that should be improved in favor of achieving a balance of gender representation, there can be no doubt that there are women leaders dedicated to work in favor of sustainability from all areas.

Among these leaders were representatives of the Business and Economy, leaders of cultural and social groups committed to sustainable development, entrepreneurship and circular economy, international cooperation, innovation and environment, and new technologies.

The following are some key phrases that were said in the Summit:

Green investments can be more profitable than the traditional ones” says Juan Verde, president of ALF.

The most pressing social problems are human, not technological” says the former president of the United States Barack Obama.

“Beyond adopting commitments, it is time to move forward in the development of the circular economy. It is the responsibility of civil society, politicians, companies; strengthening the circular economy is a challenge for all” assured Josep Bagué, CEO of SUEZ Water Spain.

From the scope of tourism, Zurab Pololikashvili, General Secretary of the World Tourism Organization, highlighted the link between innovation and job creation: “We have to use innovation to create better jobs and enhance the competitiveness of the economy“.

One of the leaders selected to attend this Summit was a Basque woman committed to sustainability, entrepreneur, Patricia Astrain, founder of the company recircular. At in2destination we are committed to enhance the visibility of the inspiring work of women in favor of sustainability, so we have had the chance to interview Patricia to learn and share:

 in2destination: What encouraged you to create recircular? When did the idea come up?

Patricia Astrain: My career has been very industrial and my first jump to entrepreneurship was with a consulting firm in the optimization of production processes. This experience allowed me to witness the limitations of consultancy work and the need for sustainability and social innovation in industrial environments. I investigated and studied the circular economy and I saw that I intended the solutions I was looking for. I decided to start working on one of the areas of the circular economy, with the concept of waste-resource, as the more tangible and easy way for companies to understand its value and potential environmental and social impacts, but also economic. In recircular we want to bring the circular economy to companies creating opportunities through the recovery of waste.

 in2destination: What is recircular? What type of companies are your clients?

Patricia Astrain:  recircular is an active platform for connection of companies for the recovery of waste as raw materials. When a company introduces a waste in the system, recircular returns information about existing opportunities for recovery, calculates the optimal transaction on the basis of economic, social and environmental indicators and connects them automatically with their potential consumers. Currently we are conducting projects with medium and large companies especially, but we are developing the online platform to be able to perform all the process automatically and access any type of company, regardless of size. It is important for us to reach SMEs to demonstrate that it is possible to be sustainable, to be circular, and it makes sense even if you are a small business, a workshop or a large multinational.

 in2destination: Which were the main barriers you have face to develop the project?

Patricia Astrain: There are some barriers to implement an initiative such as this, in addition to the obvious ones related to any innovation in conventional sectors. On the one hand, we found the legal barriers on waste, end of consideration of waste, sub-products.. At the European level, the circular economy is promoted a lot and we are in the process of implementing the initiatives involving companies in them, but the legal considerations may pose a problem in some cases. On the other hand, there are logistical barriers, related to the transport costs, above all, we deal with them by working in the most possible local way, reducing distances and incorporating innovative logistics partners to our system. We are also confronted with barriers of trust between companies and in relation to the quality of the resources we want to enhance, for which we work directly with companies and we use the concept ‘Design for Trust’ used in other systems like Airbnb. We work with all necessary actors to reduce barriers that we found.

 in2destination: What actions do you develop as intermediaries between companies?

Patricia Astrain: First we analyze the waste, sub-products or any other trace production that is presented to us, what we call resources, to know its characteristics and understand their situation. Then, we investigate on the possibilities of reusing them focusing on reuse as direct as possible (since that is what consumes fewer resources), as well as on technology and intermediate processes necessary for the adequacy of resources. In this process we try to be creative in order to identify more opportunities and more innovative as well. Then we look for sectors and firms that may need such materials or those characteristics of the resources and we will get in touch with them to promote that transactions are carried out. We take into account the economic impact and environmental and social improvement that may lead to the transaction, as we seek to focus on the triple balance, both for us and for the companies we work with. The tool that we are developing performs this process automatically and calculates the optimal transaction on the basis of indicators that consider these three aspects.

 in2destination:What future perspective do you have regarding circular economy?

Patricia Astrain: I believe that the circular economy is the way to follow to ensure sustainability as a society, as well as that of our business sector. It is the only way that ensures that we can live with the resources we have available without that future generations will have to renounce them. In addition, when we think in terms of circular economy a world of possibilities is opened with new business opportunities, innovation,… is fascinating! I also believe that it is important to mention that I always refer to the circular economy well understood as a holistic concept that goes from the ecodesign, passing by the servitization of products (in replacement of the sale) and ends in a cycle of reuse of products and materials that prevents from reaching its end of life and throw, as is done now.It is important to understand this because currently is disclosing the circular economy in the wrong way in many media, in which they only speak in terms of recycling or plastics. The circular economy goes far beyond that.

 in2destination: In which aspects do you think recircular can be beneficial for the tourism sector?

Patricia Astrain: With recircular what we get is to have local and regional companies stronger, less dependent on imported resources, more innovative and more able to face the challenges that can reach. At the same time we can create more job opportunities, creating sustainable jobs, in many cases for vulnerable groups. When we educate citizens and businesses of the value of resources and opportunities that they offer, we aspire to eliminate the need for landfill sites. In addition, many cities and regions are already working to become circular environments. I believe that all this will have an impact in a more sustainable and valuable tourism, both for the visited regions and for tourists.

 in2destination: With respect to the Summit of Technological Innovation and Circular Economy that was held the 6 of July, what aspects of those which were discussed there have had an impact on you? Did it provide you with new ideas?

Patricia Astrain: It was a pleasure to be selected as one of the 300 leaders in circular economy that was invited to attend the summit. It was an event with a high level of speakers! Barack Obama, 4 Nobel Prize winners, former presidents and presidents of countries, representatives of the World Bank or the American Sustainable Business Council… well, an incredible level. It was a very complete event in which they spoke about education, the impact of automation in the work, politics, sustainability… It wasn’t so focused on circular economy, but it was very inspiring. There was a comment from Barack Obama on the importance of going improving slowly, although it is not the perfect solution, “better is already good.” All of this is very important to recircular, because we are not the solution to all problems, we did not implement the circular economy completely, but we offer real solutions and we are already having a real impact. It is better to go forward and contributing, even if it is little by little, than stand waiting for the perfect solution.

 in2destination:What measures do you think should be taken to promote the circular economy and its development?

Patricia Astrain: Many measures are being adopted, many of them promoted from Europe, but it is true that we need greater support to ensure that the circular economy becomes a reality. On the one hand, we need access to financing with good conditions. Implement changes that the circular economy proposes can be costly initially for businesses and entrepreneurs, but in the medium term is more profitable. On the other hand, it is clear that we need less legal barriers, less bureaucracy and that they should allow us to work to give a second life to waste. I also believe it is important to support the circular economy on a practical level, talks less and do more. That is what we are doing in recircular!

Thank you Patricia for your time, congratulations for having been one of the leaders selected to participate in this summit, we have learned a lot with you, and we wish you lots of success!

Finally mention that in connection with one of the main topics addressed in this Summit, technological innovation, we want to make reference to this year’s theme of the World Day of Tourism that will help to highlight the opportunities for sustainable development they represent for the tourism technological advances, such as the data intelligence, artificial intelligence and digital platforms. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) believes that digital developments and innovation are part of the answer to the challenge of reconciling the continued growth with greater sustainability and responsibility in the tourism sector.

Contributing to the development of sustainable tourist destinations in Colombia by pivoting in measurement.

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Within the framework of the Cooperation for International Development ERICA programme (Spain and its regions exchange knowledge with Antioquia) transfer pilot project on sustainable tourist destinations is being executed in Jericó (Antioquia, Colombia) and in2destination has been the chosen Spanish counterpart as tourism experts. Between July 9 and 13th our CEO Nagore Espinosa has had a mission to Colombia, in particular to Medellín and to Jericó, this latter municipality has been the object of the pilot project.

In this mission the team formed by professionals from the University of Antioquia, EAFIT University and in2destination have deepened in the international standards in measurement of tourism to approach the strengthening of Jericó, so that both the public administration and the private sector of Jericó will continue to work toward sustainability. Currently, the municipality and numerous service providers are certified as sustainable under the rules of the Ministry of Tourism of Colombia and this project strengthens this commitment and opens the way to deepen in the measurement of sustainable tourism development at the local level and the creation of sustainable tourism products.

It is an enriching project for all parties involved, as we all contribute and learn, because of the multidisciplinary of the team: tourism, biology, anthropology, economists, and because the people involved from the territory show a great initiative, commitment, they are eager to learn, to contribute and more importantly to implement the lessons learnt.

Part of the project implies measuring, a task that could seem of low interest. However, from the beginning it has been understood as a critical action for the good of the destination, tourism businesses and the host community. Thus, for in2destination team it is a cooperation for development work in which we are very much invested and we feel fortunate to have been chosen.

in2destination within the Debate Forum “Sustainable Tourism in Mallorca”

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On May 31 took place the Forum of Debate “Sustainable Tourism in Mallorca“, organized by the Fundación Alternativas with the support of Fundació Mallorca Turisme and the Consell de Mallorca through From here we want to thank them for the deference they had for inviting us to be part of it.

in2destination was an integral part of the first round table, in which we discussed the concept of “Socially Responsible Tourism“, together with Aurora Pedro, PhD in Economics from the University of Valencia and professor of “tourism policy” at the university and with Joaquín Nieto, director of the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations for Spain.

We had the opportunity to discuss the relevance or not of the definitions of sustainability and how these definitions should also be transferred to the field of measurement. In addition, we insist on highlighting the current challenges that exist regarding the measurement of tourism, especially from a sustainable and environmental approach. We also stressed that our vision is that Big Data is not the end, but the means to answer the questions that the sector poses as key issues, and not all are susceptible to be answered with Big Data, some need official statistics, records, interviews and other methodologies.

In the second round table, focused on the challenges and opportunities of tourism in Mallorca (and, by extension, in the rest of the islands), it was debated whether it is a destination that suffers intensity or saturation. The answers were in the way that this intensity is perceived and, therefore, it has to be managed, but that there was no deep saturation. Even so, it was clear that a debate is needed on how to face the growth of tourism in the destination, if it is appropriate to put a stop to it and if the Palma airport has reached its maximum capacity.

The conclusions reached by those present were in line with the importance of the role of governance in the decision-making process of consensus, the importance of measurement, the subsequent intelligent use of the data obtained and the need to respect the residents.

Fundación Alternativas highlighted the work they carried out for Gipuzkoa (work in which in2destination was also part of) with the objective of deepening the challenges in which to work. Thus, it was reported how the Government of Gipuzkoa has already begun to work with a greater development in depth of the Tourist Observatory of Gipuzkoa and with specific actions with subsidies and aid aimed at strengthening the sector.

The final message in2destination wants to underline is that real actions can be launched after an in-depth study of each case.

We are grateful, once again, for being able to participate in this enriching debate and we also thank the audience, as it was very participative with reflections and questions to which the panelists try to respond.

NECSTouR Workshop “Better places to live, better places to visit”

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Within the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, NECSTouR and the Catalan Tourism Agency, which currently hosts the NECSTouR presidency, organised a relevant workshop entitled “Better places to live, better places to visit” in Barcelona on April 19th at the Maritime Museum of Barcelona.

Dr. Nagore Espinosa, in her double role as CEO of in2destination and INRouTe network expert and coordinator, participated as moderator in the round table “Putting culture and citizens: at the center of the tourism experience”.

The focus of the event, and of this roundtable, was the triangle: Culture, Visitor, Resident and how we should develop cities for the well-being of our residents, and what is good for the resident will be good for the visitor, and how the development and promotion of culture is key for our residents and for the sustainable development of tourism.

In addition, a key element of the event was the presentation to the physical and streaming audience of the Barcelona Declaration on Tourism and Cultural Heritage, which represents a clear commitment to ensure the sustainability of the cultural heritage, its territory and destination and to generate a balanced benefit between the culture, the host community and tourists.

Nagore Espinosa in TEDx VitoriaGasteiz

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Nagore Espinosa has been a speaker the past April 14th at “Towards a More Sustainable Tourism”, with the TED talk “Towards a More Sustainable Tourism”, addressing the relevance of shifting the current tourism development models to achieve sustainability, inclusiveness and smarter destinations, seeing tourism measurement as a core axis.

Nagore had the chance of explaining how we are traditionally governed by models of tourism development in which the resident person is not taken into consideration. In fact, models that do not study in depth whether the tourist’s expenditure benefits the resident community or whether it is income that leaves the country; a model, after all, that requires a change of mentality on the part of institutions as well as on the part of private companies and the tourist themselves.

The tourism sector is a complex sector that integrates several layers. From the territory itself to the person travelling to a destination, through the people living there and to the infrastructure of the place (running water, electricity, communications or sanitary infrastructure). All of this is part of the same system: from a sustainable tourism perspective, all these layers are interconnected and need to be managed in a coordinated manner and be balanced in order to achieve non-intrusive growth in the long term.

People who attended this presentation witnessed examples of tourism overcrowding, how other destinations around the world are addressing this situation and what to do on their travels to be an active part of the change. If you could not attend, you can see Nagore Espinosa’s participation here.


in2destination supporting MITOMED+

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in2destination team has had the pleasure of being part of the event “Building sustainable coastal and maritime tourism policies for med destinations”, which is an initiative within the European MITOMED+ project. This project aims at implementing the MITOMED+ measurement and monitoring system for the sustainability of tourism activity in 15 destinations in Mediterranean Europe.

The event was organized by the SAETA team of the Regional Government of Andalusia, with the support of in2destination and the Tuscany Region as the leader of the MITOMED+ project.


During the congress, the development and implementation of measurement indicators and their subsequent use in the formulation of tourism policies were discussed. In addition, relevant experts from the UNWTO, the European Statistical System, the European Commission, representatives of other European destinations and academic researchers have also provided their opinions.

Here we share the video of the conclusions of the congress issued by Dr. Nagore Espinosa, CEO of in2destination and expert and coordinator of INRouTe.

4YFN gathers crowd that start-up would not otherwise meet

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The first participation of in2destination in 4YFN has been highly positive. For this consulting and tourism research company to be present at this fair, a real hotbed of ideas, has been a great opportunity to achieve its goal to state what they do and why they do it: work for a smart, sustainable and inclusive tourism for all.

in2destination was part of the Pitch the Press session on February 27, a direct encounter with journalists from different national and international media. The sensations were very positive and several professionals congratulated the team for the real applications that their products and services have for the tourism industry. Also on February 28 Nagore Espinosa, CEO of in2destination made a pitch to investors and the general public in a session dedicated to mobility, session that repercusionned getting more interesting contacts.


4YFN is, ultimately, a powerful platform for the projection of technology start-ups: without this type of events would be impossible. 4YFN is a very positive environment in which the tourism industry has had quite weight as demonstrated by the participation of several start-ups in the sector. And, is that, tourism, technology and innovation must go hand in hand to achieve smart tourism.


The support that the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda, ICEX and have given to the companies of the Spanish Pavilion and, in particular to in2destination, has been noted with the presence in mass media and social networks as with the recording of a video, posted on youtube, interviewing Nagore Espinosa PhD., as well as with the visit of Minister Álvaro Nadal to in2destination stand. This visit has been a great opportunity to explain first-hand the work of in2destination and for the Minister to ratify the importance of both data collection and its subsequent use in decision-making to continue towards the development of smart, sustainable and inclusive tourism in Spain.

A profitable edition for in2destination: FITUR 2018

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Beyond the reported record numbers of participants, exhibitors, press, among others attending Madrid tourism fair this past January, we rather highlight the quality of meetings and contacts maintained. From the point of view of professionals in the sector, the different conferences and workshops on various technologies applied to the sector, challenges from social, governance, environmental and even technological absorption perspectives have been very interesting.

In addition, in this edition our CEO, Nagore Espinosa PhD, has been part of one of the panels of the Fiturtech Forum, being a speaker at the conference dedicated to the “contribution of the tourism industry to the objectives of sustainable development”, which took place on Friday January 19th at the #techYsostenibilidad [tech and sustainability] exhibition organized by the ITH Hotel Technology Institute of Spain. Her presentation focused on the existence of demand that makes investing in sustainability profitable and on highlighting real and responsible initiatives that work in accordance with the SDGs 2030. Thus, she selected very committed international examples from Sweden, Argentina, Germany, US and also Spanish cases such as RURALSUITES in Navarra, example of accommodation and activity company, absolutely inclusive and sustainable or Ultzama School Farm, in the Ultzama Valley also in Navarra, with its project Caracol, the first Slow Food Inter school in Spain, which offers a totally inclusive and sustainable space.

The examples cited by Nagore, go in the direction of what in2destination aims at, which is nothing more than accompanying tourism destinations and companies so that they are more Sustainable, More Inclusive and Smarter, providing them with a combination of strategic consulting, training and technology solutions.

We take this opportunity to encourage other entrepreneurs of knowledge and technology in tourism to participate in FITUR with their own stand. It was the first year that in2destination has opted to participate with its own space in the Startup area of the FITUR Know – How & Export stand of SEGITTUR and our assessment has been very positive. We have had a personalized stand, in an area shared with other entrepreneurs with whom synergies arise, also participating in workshops and assisting collaborators and entities interested in knowing the services and projects that we carry out at in2destination.