Preserving Cultural Identities for the Future of Tourism

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Fourth World Conference on Culture and Tourism spotlights the added value of culture for destinations and focuses on the future sustainability of cultural tourism.

Over the past two days in Japan’s capital of culture, delegates debated how to keep the appreciation of heritage and contemporary cultural expression at the heart of tourism for generations to come. Intercultural dialogue, local communities and innovative measurement systems are at the core of the conference conclusions laid down in the Kyoto Declaration.

UNWTO Executive Director Manuel Butler said: “When managed responsibly cultural tourism can enrich the lives of both travelers and residents, promoting diversity and intercultural dialogue. The Kyoto Declaration will help us to ensure that our world’s rich heritage and diverse creativity are wonders that our children too will have the chance to discover for themselves”

UNESCO Deputy Director General, Mr. Xing Qu, added: “The international community needs to seize the benefits of connecting culture and tourism as global forces that bring people together. UNESCO is pleased to be partnering with UNWTO in this venture as we look to deepen and widen our collaboration.”

Responsible practices were at the forefront of the solutions put forward by leading experts in the field, such as including the local population at every level of cultural tourism development and using new technologies to sustainably manage visitor flows and the equal distribution of tourism benefits.

Kyoto’s Mayor, Mr. Daisaku, presented the ‘Kyoto Model’ to representatives from over 50 countries across the world as a means of effectively striking the right balance between marketing cultural heritage and preserving it for future generations. 

UNWTO also launched the ‘UNWTO Recommendations on Sustainable Tourism Development’ during the conference that were compiled in close consultation with indigenous entrepreneurs, advocates and representatives. 

The recommendations provide guidance on developing sustainable and responsible operations to indigenous communities that want to open up to tourism development or improve the existing tourism experiences their communities offer.