First ever Silk Road training course for heritage guides taking place in Khiva, Uzbekistan
On 24 August 2015, a ground-breaking Silk Road training course for heritage guides was inaugurated in Khiva, Uzbekistan.
Generously hosted by the UNESCO Tashkent Office and the Republic of Uzbekistan, and jointly organized by UNWTO, UNESCO and the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA), the Enhancing Silk Road Interpretation and Quality Guides Training was a two-week training course aimed at providing heritage guides operating across the Silk Road with a unified set of guiding skills and specialised know-how on site-interpretation, presentation and management.
Upon successful completion of the training, the participants will be officially certified as “Silk Road Heritage Guides” – a further step towards achieving the goals outlined in the UNESCO/UNWTO Silk Road Heritage Corridors Tourism Strategy. Moreover, the participants from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, through their WFTGA accreditation, will proceed to form part of an international pool of Silk Road heritage guides and Silk Road heritage guide trainers, contributing herewith to the quality and excellence of sites located along the Silk Road heritage corridors.
At the opening ceremony attended by high-level officials from UNWTO, UNESCO, representatives from the National Company “Uzbektourism” and local dignitaries, Ms. Alla Peressolova, Head of the UNWTO Silk Road Programme, stressed the importance and novelty of a training course focused on trans-boundary cooperation, the development of joint tourism capacities and the overarching transmission of Silk Road heritage:
“Guides play an integral role in the tourist experience, particularly along the Silk Road, and by providing quality training we intend to strengthen their role as ambassadors of a site or region. Tourism is a vehicle for improving livelihoods and safeguarding heritage, and we all have a role to play in the process”, she said before adding that the aim of the UNWTO Silk Road Programme is to replicate this very positive and pioneer project across the region:
“The feedback from both course participants and involved stakeholders has been incredible - a good-practice example that will surely find continuation in the near future.”
The training course was led by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA), a UNWTO Affiliate Member and the leading organization in the training and certification of tourist guides, with the support and input of UNWTO and UNESCO. For the training, a specific Silk Road Guides Handbook was developed, which will be used as standard training material for upcoming Silk Road training courses.
About the project
Jointly developed by UNWTO and UNESCO, the UNESCO/UNWTO Silk Road Heritage Corridors Tourism Strategy seeks to guarantee a balanced approach between tourism promotion and heritage management across two Silk Road heritage corridors:
- The Chang’an Tianshan heritage corridor crossing China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2014, and
- The Amu-Darya heritage corridor crossing Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
The overall strategy and objectives of the project are outlined in the Roadmap for Development, a three-step development plan focused on sustainable tourism growth, community development, heritage management and conservation.
With Phase I (Needs Assessment) currently underway, the Enhancing Silk Road Interpretation and Quality Guides Training marks the commencement of Phase II (Project Development & Prioritization) of the project. By training and certifying course participants as official Silk Road tourist guides, the training aims to develop common capacity building standards and guidelines along the Silk Road, which will furthermore enhance the overall visitor experience to sites with an outstanding cultural and natural heritage, and improve the connectivity and accessibility to sites, improving, herewith, the engagement of involved project stakeholders.