Launched earlier this year, the “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO” project aims to identify villages of member states that take innovative and transformative approaches to tourism in rural areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As part of the project, UNWTO member states could nominate up to three villages or municipalities that harness the power of tourism to provide opportunity and safeguard their communities, local traditions and heritage.
According to an announcement by the Greek Tourism Ministry, applications to take part in the project to represent Greece were submitted by the municipalities of Alexandroupolis, Alonissos, Eastern Samos, Western Samos, Meteora, Lamia, Soufli and Tempi.
A special working group chaired by Greek Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki evaluated the candidacies and approved the participation of the municipalities of Alonissos, Western Samos and Soufli. The next step of the process is for Greece to submit its candidacies to the UNWTO for further evaluation.
“The possible entry of a Greek village on the list of the World Tourism Organization is an important opportunity to promote and strengthen the idea of sustainability of destinations that we so desperately need,” Zacharaki said.
The UNWTO’s “Best Tourism Villages” project includes three pillars. Villages that are outstanding examples of rural tourism destinations with recognized cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products and lifestyle will be given the “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO” label (award).
Villages that do not fully meet the label criteria will receive support by the UNWTO and its partners through a special upgrade program to improve elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.
Also, a “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO” network will be created to provide a platform for the exchange of experiences and good practices, learnings and offering opportunities.
The selected villages will be announced in October, on the occasion of the 24th session of the UNWTO General Assembly.