Tourism and Culture
The convergence between tourism and culture, and the increasing interest of visitors in cultural experiences, bring unique opportunities but also complex challenges for the tourism sector.
“Tourism policies and activities should be conducted with respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage, which they should protect and pass on to future generations; particular care should be devoted to preserving monuments, worship sites, archaeological and historic sites as well as upgrading museums which must be widely open and accessible to tourism visits”
UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics
Article 7, paragraph 2
This webpage provides UNWTO resources aimed at strengthening the dialogue between tourism and culture and an informed decision-making in the sphere of cultural tourism. It also promotes the exchange of good practices showcasing inclusive management systems and innovative cultural tourism experiences.
ABOUT CULTURAL TOURISM
According to the definition adopted by the UNWTO General Assembly, at its 22nd session (2017), Cultural Tourism implies “A type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination. These attractions/products relate to a set of distinctive material, intellectual, spiritual and emotional features of a society that encompasses arts and architecture, historical and cultural heritage, culinary heritage, literature, music, creative industries and the living cultures with their lifestyles, value systems, beliefs and traditions”.
UNWTO provides support to its members in strengthening cultural tourism policy frameworks, strategies and product development. It also provides guidelines for the tourism sector in adopting policies and governance models that benefit all stakeholders, while promoting and preserving cultural elements.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CULTURAL TOURISM KEY PLAYERS ON ACCESSIBILITY
UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and UNE issued in September 2023, a set of guidelines targeting key players of the cultural tourism ecosystem, who wish to make their offerings more accessible.
The key partners in the drafting and expert review process were the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT). The ICOMOS experts’ input was key in covering crucial action areas where accessibility needs to be put in the spotlight, in order to make cultural experiences more inclusive for all people.
This guidance tool is also framed within the promotion of the ISO Standard ISO 21902, in whose development UNWTO had one of the leading roles.
COMPENDIUM OF GOOD PRACTICES IN INDIGENOUS TOURISM
The first UNWTO Compendium of Good Practices in Indigenous Tourism – Regional Focus on the Americas, co-produced with the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA), was released in March 2023.
The report is primarily meant to showcase good practices championed by indigenous leaders and associations from the Region. However, it also includes a conceptual introduction to different aspects of planning, management and promotion of a responsible and sustainable indigenous tourism development.
The compendium also sets forward a series of recommendations targeting public administrations, as well as a list of tips promoting a responsible conduct of tourists who decide to visit indigenous communities.
For downloads, please visit the UNWTO E-library page:
Download in English - Download in Spanish.
Weaving the Recovery - Indigenous Women in Tourism
At the 2020 Paris Peace Forum, UNWTO and its partners presented a Weaving the Recovery project to enable market access of indigenous women to tourism and conscious consumers through textiles, fair trade and community entrepreneurship.
This initiative, which gathers UNWTO, the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA), Centro de las Artes Indígenas (CAI) and the NGO IMPACTO, was selected as one of the ten most promising projects amoung 850+ initiatives to address the most pressing global challenges. The project will test different methodologies in pilot communities, starting with Mexico, to enable indigenous women access markets and demonstrate their leadership in the post-COVID recovery.
This empowerment model, based on promoting a responsible tourism development, cultural transmission and fair-trade principles, will represent a novel community approach with a high global replication potential.
Click here to visit the project webpage.
INCLUSIVE RECOVERY OF CULTURAL TOURISM
In February 2021, UNWTO launched the UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide - Sociocultural Impacts of COVID-19, Issue II: Cultural Tourism. UNWTO invited UNESCO to contribute to this second set of guidelines relating to the sociocultural impacts of COVID-19. The publication draws on the insights of the two UN agencies to analyse the impact of the pandemic and suggests solutions for cultural tourism to prosper again, under the principles of shared responsibilities and greater inclusion.
The release of the guidelines comes within the context of the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021, a UN initiative designed to recognize how culture and creativity, including cultural tourism, can contribute to advancing the SDGs.
UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide, Issue 4: Indigenous Communities
UNWTO, the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) and OECD have joined efforts to contribute to the UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide - Sociocultural Impacts of COVID-19, Issue 4: Indigenous Communities, the fourth set of guidelines relating to the socio-cultural impacts of COVID-19 on tourism. This set of guidelines has been developed by the UNWTO Ethics, Culture and Social Responsibility Department, in collaboration with Indigenous leaders, while also benefitting from inputs provided by OECD. The recommendations suggest specific solutions for the socio-economic empowerment of Indigenous Peoples through tourism. These include transitioning from “assisting” towards “enabling” indigenous entrepreneurship, strengthening skills and building capacities, fostering digital literacy for running indigenous tourism businesses, and, acknowledging the relevance of indigenous peoples and their cultural capital by destination authorities and the tourism sector, at large. (Also available in Spanish).
Sustainable Development of Indigenous Tourism
The Recommendations on Sustainable Development of Indigenous Tourism provide guidance to tourism stakeholders to develop their operations in a responsible and sustainable manner within those indigenous communities that wish to:
- Open up to tourism development, or
- Improve the management of the existing tourism experiences within their communities.
They were prepared by the UNWTO Ethics, Culture and Social Responsibility Department in close consultation with indigenous tourism associations, indigenous entrepreneurs and advocates. The Recommendations were endorsed by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics and finally adopted by the UNWTO General Assembly in 2019, as a landmark document of the Organization in this sphere.
Who are these Recommendations targeting?
- Tour operators and travel agencies
- Tour guides
- Indigenous communities
- Other stakeholders such as governments, policy makers and destinations
The Recommendations address some of the key questions regarding indigenous tourism:
How can indigenous tourism result in equitable partnerships?
How can tourism experiences benefit both communities and tourism operators?
How can tour operators contribute to the empowerment of indigenous communities?
How can guides promote indigenous culture while enriching the experience for the visitors?
How can communities be drivers of tourism entrepreneurship and protect their resources?
How can indigenous communities set the limits of tourism development?
What kind of information visitors need prior to visiting indigenous communities?
How can visitors contribute to improving the communities’ livelihoods?
UNWTO/UNESCO World Conferences on Tourism and Culture
The UNWTO/UNESCO World Conferences on Tourism and Culture bring together Ministers of Tourism and Ministers of Culture with the objective to identify key opportunities and challenges for a stronger cooperation between these highly interlinked fields.
Gathering tourism and culture stakeholders from all world regions the conferences which have been hosted by Cambodia, Oman, Turkey and Japan have addressed a wide range of topics, including governance models, the promotion, protection and safeguarding of culture, innovation, the role of creative industries and urban regeneration as a vehicle for sustainable development in destinations worldwide.
Istanbul Declaration on Tourism and Culture: For the Benefit of All
Muscat Declaration on Tourism and Culture: Fostering Sustainable Development
Siem Reap Declaration on Tourism and Culture – Building a New Partnership Model
UNWTO Study on Tourism and Intangible Cultural Heritage
The first UNWTO Study on Tourism and Intangible Cultural Heritage provides comprehensive baseline research on the interlinkages between tourism and the expressions and skills that make up humanity’s intangible cultural heritage (ICH).
The publication explores major challenges, risks and opportunities for tourism development related to ICH, while suggesting practical steps for the development and marketing of ICH-based tourism products.
Through a compendium of case studies drawn from across five continents, the report offers in-depth information on, and analysis of, government-led actions, public-private partnerships and community initiatives.
These practical examples feature tourism development projects related to six pivotal areas of ICH: handicrafts and the visual arts; gastronomy; social practices, rituals and festive events; music and the performing arts; oral traditions and expressions; and, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe.
Highlighting innovative forms of policy-making, the UNWTO Study on Tourism and Intangible Cultural Heritage recommends specific actions for stakeholders to foster the sustainable and responsible development of tourism by incorporating and safeguarding intangible cultural assets.
UNWTO Study on Tourism and Intangible Cultural Heritage
Studies and research on tourism and culture commissioned by UNWTO
*Definition based on the 2003 UNESCO convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Photo credit of the Summary's cover page: www.banglanatak.com