TopRail, the UIC working group focused on Tourism Potential of Railways, held its first meeting of 2017 in Madrid, hosted by the Spanish Railway Foundation. The meeting was attended by railway representatives from Europe (Austria, Hungary, UK, France, and Spain), as well as from South Korea, Japan and Russia.
It had been decided by members to have this meeting in Madrid, given that the 37th International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) was taking place at the time, and this could give members the possibility of taking part in the event.
The workshop was opened by Mr Alberto García, General Manager of the Spanish Railway Foundation, and Mr Ignacio Barrón, Director of the UIC Passenger and High Speed Department. It was steered by Mr Carles Cases (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain), Chairman of the TopRail group.
During the last session of TopRail three meetings were envisaged for 2017: a steering committee in the first weeks of 2017 to review and look to the next steps of the project, a second one in March to discuss the draft of the handbook on Sustainable Tourism by Rail, and a third one in June to present the final version.
The session started with a debriefing of the last TopRail meeting and workshop during the 13th Conference on sustainability UIC held in Vienna on 12 and 13 October. Carles Casas also gave an overview of the whole project: scope, organisation, current participants, and deliverables.
He highlighted the tasks accomplished in 2016:
- The first TopRail International Workshop on Tourism by Rail held in Paris (June 2016)
- The Workshop on Sustainable Tourism by Rail in Vienna (October 2016)
- The creation and launch of the Website TopRail.org (November 2016)
And the tasks to be accomplished in 2017:
- To improve TopRail Website and get more companies involved.
- The action plan for 2017 approved during the last TopRail’s Steering Committee in July 2016 established an annual theme that should result in a useful publication for TopRail members. For 2016-2017 the topic will be “sustainable tourism” to take advantage of the fact that 2017 was declared year of sustainable tourism by the United Nations.
Regarding 2017’s annual theme: “sustainable tourism by rail”, that should result in a useful publication for TopRail members, Dr Glenn Frommer gave a summary of the meeting in Vienna and highlighted the importance of the individual work and final consensus.
During the next few months the group will have individual web-based discussions regarding the Sustainable Tourism action plan with Dr Glenn Frommer, who will prepare a draft to be discussed and approved during the next meeting in March.
The meeting ended with a visit to the Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) that had a double aim: first, to promote the project and the work carried out by its Steering Committee, and secondly, to get a glimpse of the state-of-the-art in the world of tourism trade, that was holding one of its most important events of the year during that period in Madrid.
A second workshop will be organised in March 2017 to work on the Sustainable Tourism by Rail project.