Editorial: Virtual Islands Summit 2020

Virtual Islands Summit 2020

Nobody is an island – or everybody?

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Islands tend to be attractive for tourists, they tend to be not very big and not too diverse. There are of course exceptions, big ones like what the people in Tasmania call “Northern Island”, or places of high diversity like Sri Lanka or Madagascar, and some might even be unattractive for tourists as they are hard to reach like Tristan da Cunha or off-limits like Bouvet.

For most islands, however, the reliance on tourism and the lack of a major domestic market or easy alternatives to turn to economically has pushed them into big trouble in the year of the virus: From Mallorca to Jamaica and from the atolls of the Maldives to Santorini new ideas and concepts are needed to get out of the current state of no tourism, while avoiding to fall back to the previous status of Overtourism and destruction of local culture and environment as well. For many islands, Chinese visitors were in the last decade at the same time providing a solution in the search for new markets as well as the source of new problems with fluctuations in demand and the crowding out of existing markets.

The Virtual Islands Summit 2020, organised for the first time from 7th the 13th of September, brings together island leaders and experts from around the world. They will discuss how islands are trying to implement the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN to meet the needs of future generations, the impact of the global pandemic, and how island communities are responding to a wide range of challenges.

James Ellsmoor, the force behind the event, is the founder of Islands Innovation, a consultancy and advisory firm helping to advance innovation for sustainability in island communities worldwide. The summit is the first of its kind, and participation is free. Among the almost 100 speakers are a number of prime ministers, tourism ministers, representatives of UN and other global organisations as well as the CEOs of private companies and the leaders of NGOs.

Tourism is not the only topic, but as many islands rely on tourism as one of the most important sources of income, also discussions about clean transportation, clean energy and the post-CoViD-19 development will inevitably touch on the future development of tourism as well.

To participate, click here: www.virtualislandsummit.com

There are a number of virtual meetings, which offer the opportunity to talk to the presenters and to other participants, some are free, some require a NetworkPlus ticket (99 USD).

You will meet me there!

As always, best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team!