2nd International Western Silk Road Workshop

2nd International Western Silk Road Workshop

Tourism stakeholders convene in Bulgaria to move forward in the development of the Western Silk Road as a transnational tourism initiative

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria hosted the 2nd International UNWTO Western Silk Road Workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 27-28 June 2017. Held as part of the ‘Enhancing the Understanding of European Tourism’ project developed by UNWTO in cooperation with the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission (EC), the second workshop consolidated the results obtained during the first workshop in Greece in April. Supported by the Western Silk Road Working Group, these results will now be translated into practical tourism initiatives aimed at establishing the Western Silk Road as a fully operational transnational tourism route.

UNWTO Executive Director, Zhu Shanzhong, who opened the event alongside the Minister of Tourism of Bulgaria, Nikolina Angelkova, highlighted the importance of an initiative based on sustainable cross-border partnerships and the participation of a wide range of tourism stakeholders.

In view of the upcoming 2018 EU-China Tourism Year Mr Zhu declared, “The Silk Road’s tourism success depends on multilateral cooperation. UNWTO believes that collaborative tourism development across regions enhances innovation, quality and the attractiveness of tourism products, all of which accelerate economic growth and promote stronger integration between the regions. Therefore, I would like to express UNWTO´s gratitude to Bulgaria for hosting this workshop, which will help raise the profile of the Silk Road as a world-class network of destinations.”

Ms. Nikolina Angelkova agreed: “This seminar was a useful platform for expertise exchange, as well as a tool for creating best practices in the sector. Attracting tourists can be achieved through the implementation of joint tourism packages or products focused on Silk Road Heritage. Considering the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018, our country will have the opportunity to promote the Silk Road throughout the events and initiatives organized by the Ministry of Tourism”.

The workshop shared specialised expert input on how to progress from theory to practice in the development of the Western Silk Road as a transnational tourism route. Tourism Consultant, Mr. Gavin Bell, presented the main findings of the Western Silk Road study, an innovative research approach that brings the input of tourism stakeholders together with valuable contributions from participating universities and focus group from across the Western Silk Road region. The research offers valuable insight as to how the historic Silk Road routes shaped the cultural and natural scenery of Europe and contains proposals for the development of sustainable tourism initiatives along the participating destinations.

Following the presentation, two specialised sessions were held on product development, and tourism certification and quality standards. Ms. Ethna Murphy of Ethna Murphy Consulting, an expert with extensive experience in leading international tourism development projects, shared her ideas and insights on how to ensure the long-term success of an initiative involving a broad range of stakeholders cooperating on a transnational scale.

The value of tourism certification schemes and ensuring high-quality standards within the tourism sector was addressed by Maria Cruz Cádiz Gómez of the Spanish Institute for Quality Tourism (ICTE). The importance of creating an emotional link between the visitor and the host destination, and relevant tools to improve the quality of services within the tourism sector were addressed during this interactive session.

A Western Silk Road B2B speed-networking session was organized, where attending National Tourism Administrations, tour operators and SMEs, universities, tourist guide associations and cultural route representatives networked and discussed potential initiatives to be developed within the framework of the Western Silk Road. With the assistance of the Western Silk Road Working Group, a collaborative platform established to ensure the long-term viability of the project, UNWTO will assess and incorporate the submitted proposals into the Western Silk Road Roadmap, which will be made available in due course.

UNWTO would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria and all participants for their input and contributions to the event.

Final Programme

UNWTO Press Release

Conclusions Report

Participants' List International and Local

Presentations and Videos:  

Videos showed during the meeting:

Opening:Silk Road Tourism Development Update:

Specialised Session on Product Development and Tourism Quality:
Presentations during the Western Silk Road Speed-Networking Session:
Media Coverage