Stakeholders meet to discuss future of Silk Road tourism at first meeting of UNWTO Silk Road Task Force

Wednesday 9 November 2011, World Travel Market (WTM) London

At the first meeting of the UNWTO Silk Road Task Force, UNWTO brought together stakeholders to share ideas and discuss how the industry can work together to develop sustainable tourism through the framework of the UNWTO Silk Road Action Plan 2012/2013. Participants in the meeting included UNESCO, Member States, Affiliate Members, chambers of commerce, tour operators as well as a team of consultants specialising in marketing and sustainable development.

Focus for the discussion centred on issues relating to Silk Road branding, travel facilitation, the reliability and availability of quality infrastructure and product, the importance of tour operators in destination development, and opportunities for regional development and community-based, cross-border initiatives. UNESCO’s Tourism Specialist Peter Debrine outlined priorities and activities of UNESCO for the Silk Road in the coming two years which included on-going work related to Serial World Heritage Nomination of the Silk Roads and an online information portal that will give the public access to the plethora of images, footage, documents and reports accumulated by UNESCO over years of work along the Silk Road.

At the conclusion of the meeting, UNWTO Executive Director Zoltan Somogyi said ‘This has been a very positive first meeting of the Silk Road Task Force and it is pleasing to see such strong support for UNWTO’s Silk Road Programme from across the industry. UNWTO is pleased to be a driver at the global level but it is imperative that the Member States also take the initiative to address the key issues at the local level. We look forward to working with them to advance Silk Road as we launch the Silk Road Action Plan 2012/2013.’

Conclusions from the Meeting included:

  • Member States will be encouraged to build their own localised ‘Silk Road Action Plans’ in line with the key focus areas set out in UNWTO’s global Action Plan, i.e. marketing and promotion; capacity building and travel facilitation;
  • UNWTO will continue to work towards raising profile of Silk Road tourism and building a Silk Road brand toolkit for all stakeholders that takes into consideration UN logo policies, the needs of the industry and quality control of the Silk Road brand;
  • Fundraising will be a key priority for UNWTO as a means of achieving key objectives of the Silk Road Action Plan 2012/2013;
  • Collaboration at all levels is essential for the successful planning and implementation of this initiative between UNWTO and Member States, public and private sectors, etc.
  • It is imperative that sufficient infrastructure and product exists to allow tour operators to confidently sell the Silk Road as a destination, and an inventory provided by the Member States may be one approach to achieving this.
  • The diversity of communities, intangible heritage and especially food is a key story of the Silk Road and needs to be developed and celebrated. This opens up excellent potential for cross border community focused projects and products.

Participipants in this meeting included representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, R. Korea, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, as well as UNWTO Affiliate Members: Tour Operators' Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development (TOI), Ifema/FITUR, World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations, ABTA, the Buzz Business, TMI Consultancy, Team Tourism Consulting and Silk Heritage Trust.

The First Task Force Meeting was just one of several initiatives organised by the UNWTO Silk Road Programme at this year’s WTM. The ‘Silk Road Bloggers Challenge’ generated online stories about the member states and a b2b speed networking session provided tour operators with new opportunities to bring tourists along the Silk Road Journey.

View photos taken from the meeting here.

For more information on the Silk Road Task Force, visit


Silk Road Programme Manager: Alla Peressolova

Tel: (+34) 91 567 8100

Fax: (+34) 91 5671 37 33 –