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Cultural Tourism Key to Sustaining Communities, Safeguarding Heritage

Mount Athos, Simonopetra Monaster. Photo Source: Visit Greece / H. Kakarouhas

Mount Athos, Simonopetra Monaster. Photo Source: Visit Greece / H. Kakarouhas

The importance of involving local communities in the issues of tourism development and ensuring that culture is integrated into tourism products, while at the same time promoting lesser-known cultural sites topped the agenda of the 3rd cultural tourism conference held on December 3-5, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Organized jointly by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the three-day event focused on cultural tourism policies and the need to draw up strategies that will consider the perspectives and interests of local communities while safeguarding cultural assets.

Part one of the conference explored cultural tourism’s potential to help cities transform into more sustainable and creative environments and destinations, while the second part looked into responsible tourism practices and technological advances for the protection of intangible cultural heritage.

“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,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili opening the event.

Photo Source: @UNWTO

Photo Source: @UNWTO

More than 30 ministers from across the globe pledged to cooperate on ensuring that tourism does not stifle or impact cultural heritage and its benefits for visitors and locals as well as on promoting lesser-known sites whilst managing large visitor numbers.

A relevant declaration outlining conference participants’ commitment towards meeting the goals of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will be released soon.

The 4th UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture is scheduled to take place in Kyoto, Japan, in 2019.

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