[CROSSDEV] Training tourism professionals and much more, the role of AITR

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A few weeks back, we talked about AITR, the Italian Association for Responsible Tourism, in an interview with its President, Mr. Maurizio Davolio. Today, we want to follow up to fully understand the role of AITR in the tourist sector, in Italy and worldwide.

Maurizio, last time you gave us a very vivid picture of AITR and its values. What are its main activities?
Right from the beginning, AITR wanted to do something completely new, different from what its members do. AITR does not organize trips, publish books, apply for cooperation projects, design masters, manage economic activities. Instead, AITR supports its members engaged in such activities.
It participates in cooperation projects led by NGOs, promotes the publication of books, participates with its own teachers in university courses and promotes trips of its tour operators through its website and newsletter. It also coordinates the participation of all members in international tourism fairs and exchanges.

So, I guess that communication has a very important role in AITR life…
Communication is strategic. The website is widely visited, while the newsletter, in addition to presenting the trips, provides information and updates on the association's activities. The presence on social media, Facebook and Instagram is constant. AITR also takes part to the most important tourist-related debates of the day with dedicated press releases, and also collaborates with ISTO – the International Social Tourism Organisation – of which it holds the Vice Presidency.

Any activities for tourist professionals?
AITR also designs and manages training activities on responsible tourism organized by our School, named after our dear friend Pina Sardella, its creator, who unfortunately recently passed away. The courses are open to everybody, members and non-members, employed and young people looking for a job, travel agents interested in moving towards responsible tourism, university students, tourist guides and environmental guides.

There are main professionals in the tourism sector and there are often discussions, at least in Italy, on the role of tour guides and their job profile. What do you think about it? 
We think that tour guides are of primary importance. They are the ones in closest contact with tourists, they must understand and convey the territory and its culture. It’s not all about talking of the historical and artistic beauties. Today, it is all about experiential tourism, storytelling, meeting the locals and so on. A tour guide must be trained for it all. When the trip is enriched with knowledge and relationships it is all thanks to a good tour guide.

What kind of activities do you carry at international level?
AITR works with NGOs in international development offering a wide range of services, from participatory mapping with representatives of the local communities to training in local promotion and marketing involving tour operators. Currently, AITR is engaged in projects in Cuba, Bolivia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Albania, Palestine, Myanmar, Brazil.

Photos from AITR projects Urban Lab - Albania and InnovCuba

Visit AITR website

This article was written by Sara Moscatelli, CoopCulture Communication Officer for CROSSDEV.

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