17 countries commit their support for Silk Road tourism growth at 4th UNWTO Silk Road Task Force Meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia
On 7-8 July 2014, the 4th UNWTO Silk Road Task Force Meeting took place in Tbilisi, Georgia, organised by UNWTO and the Georgian National Tourism Administration. The Meeting was held in conjunction with the first edition of Routes Silk Road, an aviation industry event organised by Routes Online (UBM) and the United Airports of Georgia.
The UNWTO Silk Road Task Force, made up of representatives from Member States, UNESCO, WFTGA and other key stakeholders, plays a decisive role in determining key strategies, driving implementation and exchanging best practices. With 17 countries represented, this 4th Meeting of the Silk Road Task Force was the largest yet. At the Meeting, the new UNWTO Silk Road Action Plan 2014/2015 was launched, and participants set out the priorities and concrete activities for the coming year. All countries actively contributed to the sharing of ideas and experiences as to how to promote the sustainable development of Silk Road tourism.
Initiatives and priorities devised by the Task Force for 2014/2015 included:
- Increased promotion of Silk Road tourism online through individual destination websites, search engine optimisation and UNWTO channels (twitter, facebook, flickr, vimeo, etc)
- Increase collaboration between Silk Road Member States and work more closely with neighbours
- Maintain commitment to improving visa policies and aviation growth across the regions
- Work more closely with travel trade to promote the Silk Road and package product
- Take collaborative approach to promoting the Silk Road at major travel fairs
- Develop a brand story for the Silk Road
- Engage with educational institutions to promote knowledge of the Silk Road
- Develop thematic products to promote the Silk Road (food, heritage, culture, etc)
- Explore the possibility of hosting a rotating annual Silk Road festival or have a Silk Road capital city
The Meeting also highlighted the significance of the June inscription of the first Silk Road heritage corridor on the World Heritage List. Submitted by China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor stretches 5,000 kilometres from Chang’an/Luoyang, the central capital of China in the Han and Tang Dynasties, to the Zhetysu Region of Central Asia. This achievement was the product of over 10 years of work by UNESCO, UCL and 15 State Parties, and creates significant opportunities for tourism and route development along the Silk Road. UNWTO and UNESCO jointly urged the Member States to engage in the Roadmap for Development devised in 2013 as a strategy for developing sustainable tourism and safeguarding heritage along the Silk Road.
By combining the Task Force Meeting with Routes Silk Road, Task Force participants had the opportunity to network with aviation leaders and participate in a highly comprehensive programme of events focusing on aviation, route development and visa facilitation for the Silk Road. The programme included the Routes Silk Road Strategy Summit, which brought together industry leaders in a series of moderator led panel discussions debating some of the key aviation and route development issues from across the Silk Road. With its forward-thinking approach to visas and its open skies policy, Georgia was an ideal destination to host the event.
The Meeting was attended by officials from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Russian Federation and Turkmenistan.