Over 900 participants, including over 45 ministers and vice ministers of tourism and culture, international experts, speakers and guests from 100 countries, gathered at the first UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture, held 4-6 February in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to explore and advance new partnership models between tourism and culture.
“Cultural heritage tells mankind’s story; it tells our story. Carefully managed, tourism can protect and enliven this heritage, generate new opportunities for local communities, and foster tolerance and respect between peoples and nations,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai opening the Conference.
During the conference the need to create a new framework for collaboration between tourism and culture was highlighted — a collaboration that includes active participation of host communities, visitors, the public and the private sector.
“It is up to us to work together to harness the sheer force of one billion tourists, turning it into one billion opportunities to contribute to inclusive economic growth, social development and advancement of the post-2015 sustainability agenda around the world,” Mr. Rifai added.
In her message to the conference, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova underlined that every tourist must be a custodian of world heritage, an ambassador of intercultural dialogue.
“This is why safeguarding cultural heritage must move forward with sustainable tourism,” she said.
The Ministerial Dialogue, moderated by Andrew Stevens from CNN International, focused on how tourism and culture administrations can work together to develop a governance framework for sustainable cultural tourism, which contributes to the socio-economic development of host communities, promotes cross-cultural exchanges, and generates resources for heritage conservation. Ministers stressed the importance of creating common institutional structures to plan and manage cultural tourism, ensure community engagement and empowerment and cooperation with the private sector.
The technical sessions focused on cultural preservation, cultural routes, tourism and creative industries, and urban regeneration through cultural tourism.
On the occasion of the conference, the Agreement on the Establishment of the International ST-EP (Sustainable Tourism Eliminating Poverty) Organization was signed by Cambodia, Ethiopia, Peru, Paraguay and the Republic of Korea in the presence of the UNWTO Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the ST-EP Foundation, Amb. Dho Young-shim.
Photo source: UNWTO