EHTTA Success at the UNWTO Conference in Madrid

Mr Baltar meets Ion Vilcu in Madrid

EHTTA President Mr Baltar meets UNWTO Director of Affiliate Membership Mr Ion Vilcu in Madrid

EHTTA to join the UNWTO Work Programme in 2022 with an International Thermal Tourism Congress

30th November 2021


Image: EHTTA President Mr Baltar meets UNWTO Director of Affiliate Membership Mr Ion Vilcu in Madrid

The European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) has been chosen to take part in the UNWTO’s Affiliate Members Programme of Work 2022, with an International Congress on Thermal Tourism to be held at the end of September 2022.  The Thermal Congress, which will focus on how thermal tourism can contribute to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals, will be hosted by the Province of Ourense, Galicia, Spain, where the EHTTA President, Mr. José Manuel Baltar Blanco is also the provincial President.

EHTTA, an Affiliate Member of UNTWO since 2019, participated in a global call for proposals for next year’s Programme of Work, and the successful applicants were announced at the UNWTO Conference in Madrid, today, 30th November.  EHTTA’s International Congress on Thermal Tourism is one of a number of initiatives to be co-organised by UNWTO, with the objective of “strengthen(ing) cooperation with the Affiliate Members while helping them enhance their visibility internationally through UNWTO’s global network”.

EHTTA president, José Manuel Baltar Blanco said

“At EHTTA, we are delighted to be given this incredible opportunity to work with global tourism experts at the UNWTO in the creation of this exciting congress in Ourense, next year.  I would like to thank the Director of the UNWTO Affiliate Members, Mr. Ion Vilcu, and Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili for this great honour.

As a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, and the only Cultural Route to be an Associate Member of the UNWTO, we were delighted to hear recently of the Memorandum of Co-Operation that has been signed between the UNWTO and the European Institute of Cultural Routes.  I am extremely proud that EHTTA’s International Congress on Thermal Tourism will be the first major event to be held in the context of this new co-operation agreement.”

Thermal Tourism is closely connected to the natural and cultural environment, and represents one of the most valuable forms of sustainable tourism. Thermal tourism offers visitors the possibility to use all the attributes of the town for health, well-being, learning, entertainment, socialising and mindfulness (and/or spiritual wellbeing). As a result, thermal tourism is a powerful tool to contribute to safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage as well as to provide socio-economic benefits, including the revitalisation of rural areas and the creation of stable employment and income-earning opportunities.

The timing of the joint UNWTO Congress on Thermal Tourism is perfect for EHTTA:

  1. Europe’s Historic Thermal Towns are perfectly placed to offer exactly what is needed after the pandemic
  2. Just in time for the new year in 2022 the AVE high speed train will connect Ourense with Madrid, building on a tradition started in the 1840s of arriving in thermal towns by train.
  3. The Jacobean Holy Year 2021 was extended into 2022 – Ourense is the perfect place to study new sustainable thermal tourism products and there will be an opportunity to walk the Way of St James as part of the Congress.
  4. In 2022 it will be 200 years since the founding of the Ourense Province, which is now governed by the Deputación de Ourense (Ourense Provincial Council). The Province maintains a strong commitment to thermalism as a tool for sustainable development.

This International Congress on Thermal Tourism builds on earlier initiatives held in Galicia:

  1. the International Congress on Thermal Tourism held in Mondariz (Spain) in 1999 and organised by the World Tourism Organization, Tourspain and the Xunta de Galicia (Associate Member of EHTTA).
  2. the International Congress on Thermal Tourism held in Ourense (Spain) in 2011 organised by the same partners and with the collaboration of the Municipality of Ourense (one of the founding members of EHTTA) and the Government of the Ourense Province (EHTTA Associate member).


– ENDS –


For further information please contact:

Simone Zagrodnik, EHTTA Executive Director:                          

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