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Event Details

ITB Empowerment Forum 1


March 4, 2020

14:00 - 15:00

Hall 19, Palais at Funkturm (fairground)

The ITB-Empowerment Days are focusing on putting a spotlight on responsible, sustainable tourism matters. This forum was founded to create awareness for sensible issues the tourism industry, finding solutions instead of looking away. They also serve as a best practice as many outstanding leaders in the field are being awarded with prizes during the three 3 days, inspiring others.

The Empowerment Forum 1 is a  platform for Responsible Destinations: Challenges and opportunities for authentic indigenous travel experiences will be discusses – and top responsible tourism destinations will be awarded. 

ITB Wednesday starts with the Indigenous Tourism Forum. The aim is to face the specific challenges of indigenous tourism and to identify and create an authentic, community-owned product, giving a voice to the often marginalized. The seminar wants to be a platform for exchange of ideas within international indigenous communities, who do or wish to participate in tourism, creating a different, non-centric atmosphere while delivering results to share.
On the 2nd part of the Day 1, organizational leaders, working in the field of sustainable tourism since many years, will come together to discuss best examples of how the UNWTO Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be put into practice. Immediately after that sessions, those destinations which have been inspiring innovators of sustainable tourism and have convinced the jury will be announced, awarded and celebrated during the well-established Top 100 Destination Awards. 


  • What are the challenges and solutions of indigenous tourism in a context of climate change?
  • How international certificates supports the connection between indigenous locals and international tourism with environmental protection?
  • Definition and reality of Indigenous Tourism on different continents
  • Can the travel industry support biodiversity protection, ecosystem regeneration on Earth thanks to indigenous wisdom?
  • Why Indigenous rights are connected to our planet´s protection?

A panel of indigenous experts in tourism will discuss the worldwide reality of indigenous tourism and explore sustainable systems empowering indigenous peoples and finding solutions in a context of climate and biodiversity crisis. The UNWTO Recommendations on Sustainable Development of Indigenous Tourism will serve as a guideline. 

Welcoming Cultural Performance:
Odissi – Indian classical dance by Swati Prasad

Rika Jean-Francois, CSR Commissioner, ITB Berlin
Gopinath Parayil, Founder & President, The Blue Yonder

Keynote Speaker:
Ben Sherman, Chairman, World Indigenous Tourism Alliance WINTA

Moderated by:
Aurélie Debusschère, Europe Agent World Indigenous Tourism Alliance, World Indigenous Tourism Alliance, Native Immersion

Panel guests:
Rolando German Collaguazo Proañ, Representative of Yunguilla community in Ecuador, Yungilla community
Asel Ismailova, Director, Kyrgyz Guided Tours LLC
Judy Kepher Gona, Executive Director of Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda, STTA Kenya
Jerry Spooner, Director of Department of Tourism, Vanuatu Tourism

The Sustainable Destinations Awards is the world's leading award series for destination sustainability efforts. A Jury representing 12 international organisations will unveil the winners in the award categories Nature; Communities & Culture; Best of Africa, Best of the Americas, Best of Asia-Pacific and Best of Europe. The flagship award is the ITB Earth Award, recognising global leadership in combatting climate change and environmental degradation.

Prior to the ceremony, ECOTRANS and high-level representatives from UN-CBD, UNESCO, GSTC, WWF, SUNx will present the urgency to boost sustainable tourism as driver for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals until 2030. They will announce their collaboration under the “Travel Green Planet 2030” initiative with the flagship aim to mainstream credibly certified tourism in all destinations with protected areas and cultural heritage sites, using the commonly shared Green Travel Maps on the Tourism2030 platform for knowledge networking and annual reporting. Green Destinations, and will announce their cooperation to highlight certified travel offer to consumers; and the Good Travel Guide will be presented as tool for Top100 destinations to showcase and book sustainable travel options.

The event is organized and sponsored by ITB Berlin, Green Destinations, the Sustainable Top 100 Partnership, TravelMole, Travelife for Tour Operators and Ecotrans.

Rika Jean-Francois, CSR Commissioner, ITB Berlin

Lonneke de Kort, CEO,

Moderated by:
Pastollnigg Alexandra, CEO,

Peter DeBrine, Senior Project Officer, Sustainable Tourism, World Heritage Centre Culture Sector, UNESCO
Dr. Richard Denman, Director, The Tourism Company
Randy Durband, CEO, GSTC
Herbert Hamele, President, ECOTRANS
Oliver Hillel, Program Officer, CBD Secretariat
Geoffrey Lipman, Co-Founder, The SUNx Program
Drs. Albert Salman, President, Green Destinations
Gordon Sillence, Tourism2030 Program, ECOTRANS
Martina von Münchhausen, Sustainable Tourism, WWF Germany