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Cultural Tourism Sustains Communities and Living Heritage

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The third cultural tourism conference (3-5 December) organized jointly between the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) concluded today in Istanbul, Turkey. Participants declared their support for cultural tourism as a driver for safeguarding living heritage, catalyzing creativity in cities, and spreading tourism’s socioeconomic benefits to all.

Organized with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey under the theme ‘for the Benefit of All’, the conference explored the potential of the tourism and culture partnership, along with new trends in technology and visitor management, to bring the widest range of benefits to visitors and host communities while safeguarding cultural values.

A key conclusion from the conference was the need for a clear and strong link between tourism, culture and local community stakeholders. Cultural tourism policies and strategies must consider the perspectives and interests of local communities, who can also assist governance bodies in balancing tourism development with heritage conservation and safeguarding. Channelling tourism revenues into cultural preservation and community development was identified as a key governance challenge.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca of Malta addressed the conference at its opening, reinforcing that: “In today’s world, tourism diplomacy is becoming more important to foster understanding, and culture is key to achieving this”.

UNESCO Deputy Director-General Xing Qu affirmed tourism’s essential role, stating: “Tourism provides a tremendous opportunity to support local economic development, while breaking down barriers between people. Harnessing creativity and technological innovation, as well as safeguarding heritage is essential for promoting responsible and sustainable tourism to support and unify communities for years to come.”

“Culture is one of the drivers of tourism growth, so protecting cultural heritage and promoting tourism for sustainable development are part of the same equation. That 30-plus ministers from around the world are gathered here proves the place of culture in tourism,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili opening the event.

These sentiments were echoed by Turkey’s culture and tourism minister Mehmet Ersoy. “The culture and tourism partnership provides a framework for public-private cooperation, education, investments and sustainability,” Minister Ersoy added.

In a debate moderated by the BBC’s Rajan Datar, the more than 30 ministers present concluded that tourism and culture are indivisible and must work together so that tourism does not suffocate cultural heritage and its benefits for visitors and locals. However, the main challenge is to spread cultural tourism’s attractiveness beyond established sites whilst managing large visitor numbers.

The first session of the conference focused on cultural tourism’s potential to help cities transform into more sustainable and creative environments and destinations. It ended in agreement that the creative and cultural sectors can strengthen and provide innovation in cultural tourism, forging links that turn tourism into a tool to safeguard tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

The second day of the event was given over to the twin influence of responsible tourism and technological advances in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. It was agreed that innovation should be strengthened for better management, promotion and preservation of heritage, as well as to make cultural tourism accessible to all.

During the event, five leading Turkish tourism companies signed the Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, boosting the efforts of Turkish industry leaders to ensure sustainable development of the sector.

The 3rd UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture will produce a declaration, to be made available soon, outlining the cross-sector commitment of all participants to reinforcing the tourism and culture partnership as an enabler for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations. The next edition of the conference is scheduled to take place in Kyoto, Japan in 2019.

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AIIB to Support Indonesia’s Sustainable Tourism Development

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The Board of Directors of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a USD248.4-million loan to the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation, with a guarantee of the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesia), in support of the Mandalika Urban and Tourism Infrastructure Project. This will be AIIB’s first stand-alone operation in Indonesia and AIIB’s first tourism-related infrastructure investment.

The global tourism industry continues to grow and is a vital source of employment and income, contributing over 10 percent of global gross domestic product and linked to 10 percent of jobs worldwide. Indonesia has a strong comparative tourism advantage in accelerating job creation given its rich tourism resources.

The project aims to provide sustainable essential infrastructure for the development of new tourism destinations in the Mandalika region of Lombok, including infrastructure improvements in surrounding communities. By facilitating private sector investment, the project is expected to create a significant amount of direct, indirect and induced employment in tourism as well as related businesses, boosting Indonesia’s tourism competitiveness and sustainable economic growth.

The project is aligned with the Government of Indonesia’s midterm development plan and the Indonesia Tourism Development Priority Program. AIIB’s participation is expected to help optimize project design and implementation, thereby maximizing economic and social interlinkages and promoting sustainable development.

“AIIB is mandated to foster sustainable economic development in Asia by investing in infrastructure,” said AIIB Vice President and Chief Investment Officer D. J. Pandian. “This project reflects the synergy of AIIB’s efforts and initiatives of the Government of Indonesia in promoting sustainable tourism development in the country.”

“By investing in tourism-related infrastructure, we can promote balanced regional development in Indonesia and contribute to poverty reduction,” said AIIB Director General of Investment Operations Yee Ean Pang. “Women are likely to benefit from the project as tourism tends to employ a higher proportion of women.”

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2018 Poised to Advance Tourism’s Leadership among Top Global Economic Sectors

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The latest figures on world tourism issued by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show that international tourist arrivals grew 5% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2018. This reflects continued strong demand in a favourable overall economic context. 

All world regions enjoyed robust growth in international tourism in the first nine months of this year, fuelled by solid demand from major source markets. Asia and the Pacific led growth (+7%), followed by Europe and the Middle East (+6% each), Africa (+5%) and the Americas (+3%).

Despite comparatively slower growth between July and September, UNWTO estimates that destinations worldwide received 1,083 million international arrivals through September, an additional 56 million when compared to the same period of 2017.

2018 results to date are in line with UNWTO’s growth forecast of +4% to +5% for the year. The first nine months of the year usually account for about three quarters of total annual international arrivals, as they include the Northern Hemisphere high season months of July and August.

Positive growth in tourism earnings across most destinations

With few exceptions, preliminary data on international tourism receipts confirm the positive trend seen in arrivals, with particularly strong results in Asian and European destinations.

Among the top earners, tourism earnings in the United Kingdom were up by 12% despite a decline in arrivals. In Australia, receipts increased by 11% whereas France reported an 8% growth and Italy 6%, both in line with growth in arrivals. Tourism receipts in the United States, Spain and Germany went up 3%.

In Asia, China recorded a 21% increase in tourism earnings, with Macao (China) and Japan also leading results with 20% and 19% growth, respectively.

International tourism expenditure

Preliminary data on tourism spending for the first nine months of 2018 reflect increasing demand from major source markets.

The Russian Federation (+15%) reported the largest increase in spending and continues to recover strongly after some years of decline. The United Kingdom reported 10% growth despite a weak pound against the euro and US dollar, and tourism spending from France picked up 10% after some years of rather flat growth.

The United States, the world’s second largest source market, recorded a 7% increase in line with the performance of recent years while top source market China showed a minor decrease in spending in the first six months of 2018 as a result of the weaker Yuan.

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UNWTO Partners with Niantic to Develop Innovative Tourism Experiences

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has partnered with one of its newest Affiliate Members, real-world games developer Niantic, to enhance global tourism through the use of mobile augmented reality game experiences.

UNWTO will collaborate with Niantic, creators of Pokémon GO and Ingress Prime, to curate unique campaigns around the world that will build awareness for the Organization’s Travel.Enjoy.Respect campaign, designed to enhance tourism’s contribution to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Each activity will also be designed to inspire and support exploration, and promote safe and responsible gaming practices for players of all ages.

Niantic and UNWTO will work together to combine tourism and Augmented Reality technology for players to engage with real-world locations using Niantic’s mobile games in a variety of ways. Niantic’s games and global initiatives have brought millions of players from around the world together at real-world events that promote civic engagement and cultural diversity while highlighting local heritage.

“With our ongoing commitment to promote sustainable and responsible tourism, and Niantic having recently become a UNWTO Affiliate Member, this partnership is a natural fit,” said Ion Vilcu, Director of UNWTO’s Affiliate Members Department. “Niantic are pioneers in creating real-world mobile game experiences that not only motivate their players to discover new places, but also to appreciate the culture and beauty of the world around them,” he added.

“Our goal at Niantic is to create interactive games that encourage exercise, social interaction and exploration, giving players the opportunity to play together in the real world and discover the incredible history hidden in their own neighbourhoods,” said Anne Beuttenmüller, Head of Marketing EMEA at Niantic. “We’re looking forward to creating brand new adventures in collaboration with UNWTO to increase awareness around their mission of responsible tourism,” she added.

Niantic was accepted as an Affiliate Member on 31 October 2018 at the 109th session of UNWTO’s Executive Council, held in Manama, Bahrain. This new partnership helps to bolster UNWTO’s ongoing efforts to bring together the actors of the ‘ecosystem’ of tourism technology under its priority of innovation and the digital transformation in tourism.

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