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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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The Future of Mountain Tourism

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“The Future of Mountain Tourism” is the theme of the 4th edition of the UNWTO Euro-Asian Mountain Tourism Conference (2-5 March 2019, Berchtesgaden, Germany). The conference will spotlight the significant opportunities to be seized and the challenges facing the development of mountain tourism.

The UNWTO Euro-Asian Mountain Tourism Conference is conceived to create a long-term and shared vision for mountain tourism. The upcoming fourth edition will bring together a wide variety of tourism professionals, ranging from managers of mountain tourism destinations, government officials, Destination Management Organizations and private sector representatives, infrastructure providers and the academia.

The conference will feature some 15 international speakers from Europe and Asia and will include a session on the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme and the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to align actors across sectors and borders on policies and actions.

The Bavarian Minister for Economics, Development and Energy, Hubert Aiwanger, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili ,  and the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Thomas Bareiss, will inaugurate the conference, alongside the Chief Executive of the Berchtesgaden District and host of the event, Georg Grabner.

A total of six panel debates and various thematic presentations, will provide the opportunity for participants to address themes such as the new tourist, the impact of demographic change, digitalization and mobility, tourism experiences for all four seasons, transnational cooperation and the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals, among others.

The conference is organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Berchtesgadener Land Region, with the support of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany.

This edition follows the conferences held in Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea and Georgia over the past decade.

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New UNWTO Report on Walking Tourism

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The report “Walking Tourism – Promoting Regional Development” showcases examples of walking tourism which can serve as a practical reference for destinations looking into the role of walking tourism for their own regional development.

Walking tourism is now one of the most popular ways to experience a destination. It allows tourists to better engage with the local population, nature and culture. It also meets the growing demand for outdoor activities in general. Walking tourism can be developed anywhere as an offer of sustainable tourism with a relatively small investment yet high social and economic returns for residents and tourists alike, if properly developed and managed.

This report by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) underscores the role of partnerships and the involvement and support of local stakeholders in the development and maintenance of walking tourism for regional development, considering that residents and tourists end up sharing common goods and this might give ground for potential conflicts. Therefore, access to training and inclusion of the local population in the tourism value chain is needed in order to seize new business opportunities for regional development.

Increasing consumer demand for “experiencing” a destination in an authentic way and the growing popularity of active tourism make walking tourism more and more relevant beyond walking activities, showcasing a destination as a whole including its local culture and nature.

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San Sebastian will host the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) have signed the Agreement for the holding of the 5th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism (San Sebastian, Spain 2-3 May 2019). The new edition of this global forum is supported by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Spain, the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the City of San Sebastián.

Job creation and the promotion of entrepreneurship will be this year’s special focus, in line with the 2019 UNWTO Year of Education, Skills and Jobs, closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The forum will bring together Ministers of Tourism, representatives from National and Local Tourism Administrations, chefs, entrepreneurs, academia and related stakeholders from tourism and gastronomy to discuss latest trends and to share experience.

The event will see the announcement of the winner of the First Gastronomy Tourism Start-up Competition. The competition, organized by UNWTO and the BCC, will bring five finalists to San Sebastian.

“Tourism is a huge source of employment and its multiplier effect has a knock-on effect on other sectors, such as gastronomy and its huge value chain involving several sectors”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

“We are especially proud to be co-organizers of the 5th UNWTO World Forum of Gastronomy Tourism. An edition that returns to San Sebastian and that grows exponentially thanks to the support of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Spain, the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the City of Donostia. Tourism today is a sector closely linked to gastronomy. At the Basque Culinary Center, we promote knowledge through training in both sectors and work to create an ecosystem that stimulates entrepreneurship and ensures quality employment”, underlined Joxe Mari Aizega, Director, Basque Culinary Center.

Policy framework for the development of gastronomy tourism and its capacity to create jobs and promote entrepreneurship, future skills, as well as ways to support SMEs and entrepreneurships in gastronomy tourism will be addressed as well during the forum. The panel presentations will be complemented by working sessions giving all participants the opportunity to actively immerse, interact and share ideas.

The event will close with a Masterclass by the Basque Culinary Center on how to develop competitive and sustainable gastronomy tourism in destinations.

The Forum has been held since 2015.The Basque Culinary Center hosts it every two years with the aim to promote the exchange the most relevant experiences between experts in tourism and gastronomy, to identify best practices and to promote gastronomy tourism as a contributor to sustainable development.

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