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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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UNIDO Project in Kyrgyzstan named “Project of the Year”

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The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) received the “Project of the Year” award for its activities related to “Linking the tourism industry to productive activities in the Issyk-Kul region of the Kyrgyz Republic”, which are funded by the Russian Federation.

The UNIDO project was officially acknowledged for its achievements in the field of development and promotion of the tourism sector of the Kyrgyz Republic by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism during the ceremony of the Kyrgyz Tourism Awards on World Tourism Day.

Thanks to UNIDO seminars on food safety, sustainable and eco-tourism, marketing and management skills, representatives of local producers and of the tourism sector improved their marketing and hotel management skills, with two UNIDO beneficiaries also being recognized:

On behalf of the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, UNIDO beneficiary Asylbek Razhiev was named “Man of the Year” for his special contribution to the development of tourism, and Nurbek Saparov, another UNIDO beneficiary, was named “Best Guide”.

More than two hundred representatives of the business community, international organizations, the tourism, culture and media sectors as well as politicians and diplomats attended the 2019 Kyrgyz Tourism Awards.

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Tourism Leading Other Global Sectors in Advancing Gender Equality

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with UN Women, The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), World Bank Group and Amadeus, has launched the long-awaited second edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism. The publication highlights the progress the global tourism sector has made in advancing gender equality, with key case studies and statistics gathered from around the world.

The key findings show that:

The majority of the tourism workforce worldwide is female: 54% of people employed in tourism are women compared to 39% in the broader economy

The wage-gap is smaller in the tourism sector: Women in tourism earn 14.7% less than men compared to 16.8% in the broader economy

Tourism offers women more opportunities for leadership roles: 23% of tourism Ministers are female compared to 20.7% of Ministers overall

The report also highlights how more and more women are challenging gender stereotypes in the sector.

In Morocco, for example, women have been issued tour guide licenses for the first time. An airline in the UK has doubled the number of female pilots they employ and Uganda’s Hotel Owner’s Association is now lead by its first female CEO.

Technology has also been a catalyst for empowerment, providing women with access to more training opportunities and stimulating female entrepreneurship through easier access to the tourism market.

In the public sphere, policy-makers are waking up to the importance of gender equality in tourism and putting measures in place to ensure women fairly share the benefits that tourism can bring.

Speaking on these findings UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, said “tourism is leading the charge for female empowerment all over the world. Across the private and public sectors women are harnessing the potential of tourism to become financially independent, challenge stereotypes and start their own businesses.

UNWTO is firmly committed to working towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 – the empowerment of women and girls – and ensuring that tourism continues to be at the forefront of gender-equality efforts.”

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UNWTO Joins Asia-Pacific Sector Leaders to Address Overcrowding In Urban Destinations

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the People’s Government of Guilin (China) held the 13th UNWTO/PATA Forum on Tourism Trends and Outlook in Guilin from 17 to 19 October 2019. Over 170 participants from 23 countries/regions came together to share their knowledge and experience around the theme ‘Beyond Gateways: Dispersal policies, capacity management, and rural tourism’. 

UNWTO Executive Director Manuel Butler said at the Opening Ceremony, “today we gather in the Chinese city of Guilin to present our latest tourism research and to discuss dispersal policies, capacity management and the efforts to better understand and prevent the phenomenon of overcrowding is some urban destinations.”

“Guilin is deeply committed to the sustainable development of tourism, and through this forum the city has become a prominent center for the exchange of tourism knowledge in Asia and the Pacific”, Mr. Butler added.

International tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific grew 7% in 2018 to reach a total of 348 million, one fourth of the world’s total. Asia recorded the strongest growth in international arrivals in the period 2000 to 2018, much of which has been fuelled by China, the world’s top source market. Chinese citizens made about 150 million international trips in 2018.

During the Keynote Session on sustainable tourism, Vincent Nijs from VisitFlanders (Belgium) discussed the transformational power of tourism in the context of a new future vision for tourism, including how flourishing destinations find a positive balance for the traveler, host and place.

Among the topics discussed at the Forum were the applications of big data to tourism measurement and dispersal policies, the integration of tourism with culture and creative industries, policies for managing sustainable tourism growth, capacity management and rural tourism.

The event counted with the participation of Amadeus, Telefonica, the World Bank, PATA, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Los Angeles Convention and Tourism Board, the Guanxi University as well as research and policymakers from different countries in Asia and the Pacific and the world.

The Forum has become over the last 13 years a reference platform on global and regional tourism trends.

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