The “Best Tourism Villages” initiative was launched by the UNWTO to advance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and their local values and activities, including local gastronomy.
A total of 44 villages from 32 countries across the five world regions were granted the “Best Tourism Village” recognition in 2021.
“This initiative recognizes those villages committed to making tourism a strong driver of their development and wellbeing,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.
The 44 villages were given the “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO” label.Soufli’s prestigious award was received by Greek Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki and Soufli Mayor Panagiotis Kalakikos during a ceremony held on the sidelines of the 24th session of the UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid, Spain.
“It is extremely pleasant that Soufli, among so many destinations internationally, has been chosen to be part of a global network that promotes the best examples of sustainable rural tourism development,” Zacharaki said.
According to the UNWTO, all 44 villages stand out for their natural and cultural resources as well as for their innovative and transformative actions and commitment to the development of tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Soufli, as a special tourist destination, has much to offer but also to gain from the Best Tourism Villages network through the exchange of experiences, know-how and best practices. We are grateful for the trust of the BTV network and UNWTO, and I am sure that this will be the beginning of an extremely fruitful cooperation and a very interesting journey for Soufli and its residents,” the Greek deputy minister said.
She added that the Tourism Ministry will continue and intensify efforts so that Greek tourism in the future is enriched with more quality options, and every region in the country develops its tourism potential with respect for its natural and cultural heritage and commitment to the principles of sustainable development.
The “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO” for 2021 can be seen in the following video.
A total 174 villages were proposed by 75 UNWTO Member States (each Member State could present a maximum of three villages) for the 2021 pilot initiative. Among which 44 were recognized as Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO. Another 20 villages will enter the Upgrade Programme of the Initiative. All 64 villages enter to make part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Network.
The next “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO” edition will open in February 2022.