UNWTO’s second edition of Best Tourism Villages announced

UNWTO’s second edition of Best Tourism Villages announced

Following the success of the pilot project in 2021, UNWTO has announced the return of Best Tourism Villages for 2022.

The initiative promotes and enhances the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, knowledge systems, and local values and activities, including gastronomy. At the same time, the initiative also promotes transformative approaches to the development of tourism in rural destinations that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “Tourism brings immense opportunities to communities around the world to build new businesses, promote and protect their culture. I look forward to seeing examples of villages working to realize tourism’s unique potential to foster sustainability and create opportunities for all.”

In 2021, over 40 villages from more than 30 countries across the five world regions (from over 170 applications) were recognized as Best Tourism Villages and a further 20 villages were selected to participate in the Upgrade Program. Now, UNWTO Member States are invited once again to present candidacies through their National Tourism Administrations (NTAs).

Seven Middle Eastern villages made it to the list of 2021, including Bkassine (Lebanon), Misfat Al Abriyeen, (Oman), Mustafapaşa, (Turkey), Pano Lefkara (Cyprus), Rijal Alma’a (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Sidi Kaouki (Morocco) and Taraklı, Turkey.

Applications will be open until 28 June 2022 and the chosen villages will be announced at the end of the year. They will be evaluated by an external independent advisory board consisting of experts in the different fields based on the nine evaluation areas covering natural and cultural resources as well as initiatives in the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental.

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The initiative has three components:

  • The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO recognizes outstanding examples of rural tourism destinations with recognized cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental. The recognition is based on an evaluation of their resources and initiatives in nine areas covering the three pillars of sustainable development.

  • The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Upgrade Program assists a select number of villages among those that do not fully meet the criteria to obtain the recognition. The villages receive support from UNWTO and Partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.

  • The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Network provides a space for exchanging experiences and good practices. It includes representatives of the villages recognized as Best Tourism Village by UNWTO as well as those participating in the Upgrade Program and it will benefit from the contributions of experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development. The Network also contributes to the work of UNWTO in identifying good practices, developing guidelines and policy recommendations as well as insights and knowledge.

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