2023 / 10 / 18
6th International Starlight Astrotourism Meeting began this morning at its official venue, the Palaeontological Museum of Castilla-La Mancha in Cuenca, from 18 to 20 October, with more than two hundred starlight tourism professionals, including fifty in virtual mode, gathered to set the course for the sector.
The journalist Fernando Valmaseda is the master of ceremonies of this event, which brings together public administrators, managers of specialised tourist accommodation, experts in lighting and measuring the night sky, Starlight guides and monitors, specialised journalists, as well as representatives from Starlight territories such as Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Cyprus, Canada, Chile and Portugal (among others) and from different regions of Spain such as Andalusia, Aragon, Catalonia, Galicia, Castilla León, Extremadura, the Canary Islands and, of course, Castilla-La Mancha.
The meeting will address the cross-cutting themes of the Starlight Declaration, such as: cultural values; environment, biodiversity and health; intelligent lighting and innovation; and, of course, astro-tourism as a driving force for local sustainable development.
The ceremony was attended by Darío Valz, Mayor of Cuenca; Mª Ángeles López, Delegate of the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-Mancha; Mª Ángeles Martínez, Councillor for Culture of Cuenca City Council and Deputy for Culture; and other authorities and representatives of the main organisations in Castilla-La Mancha, as well as the Director of the Starlight Foundation, Antonia Varela.
Varela began her speech by thanking the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha for its commitment to the Starlight label, the Empresa Pública de Promoción del Turismo y la Artesanía de Castilla-La Mancha S.A. (Eturia CLM), the sponsor and co-organiser of the event with the Starlight Foundation, the participants, the Starlight family and the staff for making this meeting possible.
Varela also highlighted the role of the Starlight Foundation as the promoter of the Starlight Declaration, the Magna Carta for the protection of the night sky, and the SDG18 initiative on sky quality and access to starlight that the Foundation is promoting with BPW Spain.
The Director of the Starlight Foundation also announced that there will be a VII International Starlight Meeting and that the competition to choose the venue will be launched soon.
The VI Starlight Astrotourism Meeting is being organised by the Starlight Foundation together with the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha; and with the collaboration of the Museo Paleontológico de Castilla-La Mancha and the Museo de Ciencias de Castilla la Mancha. Not forgetting the collaboration and fundamental support of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias.
The Director of the Starlight Foundation stressed that the VI Starlight Meeting could not be held in any other place than Cuenca, which has not only become the first Starlight Tourist Destination in the Castile-La Mancha region, with the Serranía de Cuenca, but has also improved its astrotourism infrastructure and sky quality every year, even expanding its territory.
In this sense, Carmen Día-Maroto, delegate of the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha, who also spoke on this first day, pointed out the territorial strategy in favour of astro-tourism that has made Castilla-La Mancha one of the territories with the most Starlight certifications in Spain. In addition to the Cuenca highlands, there are the Cielos de Guadalajara Starlight Reserve, the Valle de Alcudia and Sierra Madrona Starlight Destinations, the Sierra del Segura, Sierra de Alcaraz and Campo de Montiel, La Manchuela, Cabañeros and Campos de Hellín.
There are five sessions that will mark the presentations and round tables of the meeting:
1- The values of astrotourism and Starlight certification: 16 years of commitment to the La Palma Declaration.
2- Astrotourism and sustainable local development: The Starlight Network
3- Protecting the night sky: sustainability and climate change mitigation
4- Astrotourism experiences and good practices.
The fifth session will be the 4th Meeting of Starlight Guides and Monitors, which will be held at the same venue and will be an official meeting of all Starlight trained people, providing an excellent opportunity to share experiences and set guidelines for the future.
Star Tourism" or Astrotourism, promoted by the Starlight Foundation (www.fundacionstarlight.org), is an emerging, innovative and high quality form of sustainable and responsible tourism that is a driving force for local economies. It combines the observation of the sky with activities related to this natural resource: stars, galaxies and the dissemination of astronomy.
In order to promote this scientific tourism, it is necessary to protect the night sky, thus allowing energy savings and mitigating the effects of climate change, while combining the starry sky with the natural, cultural, scientific, biodiversity and environmental values of the places that take care of the night sky.
At the 6th International Starlight Meeting in Cuenca, the Director of the Starlight Foundation highlighted the sustained growth of the Foundation since its inception, with an internal and external team of great professionals and an ever-expanding network, now especially in Latin America.
The Foundation's strategic lines are mainly focused on the internationalisation of Starlight Certification; support for the certified area; training, education and awareness; communication and marketing; and donations and sponsorship.
This year, Andorra Comapedrosa, Costa da Morte, Cabañeros, Iberá Park, Concepción del Yaguaraté and Cabañeros were added as Starlight destinations: Concepción del Yaguaraté Corá, Loreto and Chavarría (in Argentina), Lalín, Formentera, Campos de Hellín, Mariñas Coruñesas and La Frontera. Vimioso (in Portugal) is about to be audited and Alberche Pinares, Ancares Lucenses, Red de Parajes Ribera Navarra and Hoces de Segovia are in the process of being audited.
Andorra Comapedrosa, Iberá and Soria are also Starlight Reserves.
The International Starlight projects in Giglit Batistán and the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru stand out.
Other Starlight accreditations in 2023 are in excursions and activities: The Feather Van, Orión Madrid Astroturismo; the audiovisual production company LuzLux. And in the works, 13 nautical companies.