UNWTO initiative ‘Best Tourism Villages’ to focus on those pursuing Sustainable Development Goals

NITN | @notintownlive | 27 May 2021, 12:54 am

UNWTO initiative ‘Best Tourism Villages’ to focus on those pursuing Sustainable Development Goals #Restarting Tourism

Madrid: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has decided to recognise villages across the world that are committed to the promotion and preservation of their cultural heritage and sustainable development through tourism.

This new initiative was announced at the opening of the UNWTO Middle East regional office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

UNWTO said it will identify villages taking innovative and transformative approaches to tourism in rural areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With the vision of making tourism a positive force for transformation, rural development and community wellbeing, ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ according to the international body, aims to maximise the contribution of the sector to reducing regional inequalities and fighting against rural depopulation.

It also seeks to advance the role of tourism in valuing and safeguarding rural villages along with their associated landscapes, knowledge systems, biological and cultural diversity, local values and activities, including gastronomy.

Said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, “Tourism can be a driver of positive change for rural communities all around the world. We want to recognize the uniqueness of each village and showcase the best initiatives to make tourism a means for a better future in rural areas.”

Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb said, “We are proud to be a partner of UNWTO as they launch this important initiative. For our rural communities, tourism is an opportunity to share their vibrant culture, amazing food and famous Saudi hospitality, while benefiting from the socio-economic opportunities provided by the sector.”

According to a release by UNWTO, the initiative includes three aspects -- the ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Label, the ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Upgrade Programme and the ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Network.

The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Upgrade Programme will benefit villages that do not fully meet the Label criteria.

These villages will receive support from UNWTO and its Partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.

The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Network will provide a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learnings, and opportunities.

It will include representatives of the villages awarded the ‘Best Tourism Village by UNWTO’ Label, the villages participating in the Upgrade Programme, as well as experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development.

UNWTO Members States can present up to three villages to be assessed by the Initiative.

Applications will close on July 31, 2021 and the selected villages will be announced in October this year on the occasion of the 24th session of the UNWTO General Assembly (to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco from October 12-15).

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