The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced the launch of the “Best Tourism Villages” initiative, which aims to identify the best examples of rural villages harnessing the power of tourism to provide opportunity and safeguard their communities, local traditions and heritage.
The UNWTO is also searching for villages that take innovative and transformative approaches to tourism in rural areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“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. As we restart tourism, we work to ensure that we leave no one – and no village- behind,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
The initiative’s launch takes place on the occasion of the opening of UNWTO’s first Regional Office in the Middle East (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).
The initiative includes three pillars:
1. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Label: The Label will recognize a village which is an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with recognized cultural and natural assets, that preserves and promotes rural and community-based values, products and lifestyle.
2. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Upgrade Program: The Upgrade program will benefit a number of 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.
3. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Network: The 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 Program, as well as experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development.
UNWTO member states can present up to three villages to be assessed by the initiative.
The selected villages will be announced in October, on the occasion of the 24th session of the UNWTO General Assembly.