Tourism and Culture

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.

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/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.
 

Fourth UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture: Investing in future generations. Kyoto, Japan. 12-13 December 2019

Kyoto Declaration on Tourism and Culture: Investing in future generations (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Japanese)

Third UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture : For the Benefit of All. Istanbul, Turkey. 3 -5 December 2018

Istanbul Declaration on Tourism and Culture: For the Benefit of All

(English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian)

Second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference’s on Tourism and Culture: Fostering Sustainable Development. Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. 11-12 December 2017

Muscat Declaration on Tourism and Culture: Fostering Sustainable Development

(English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian)

First UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference’s on Tourism and Culture: Building a new partnership. Siem Reap, Cambodia. 4-6 February 2015

Siem Reap Declaration on Tourism and Culture – Building a New Partnership Model

(English)

 

 

Intangible Cultural Heritage and Tourism


The global wealth of traditions is one of the principal motivations for travel, with tourists seeking to engage with new cultures and to experience the global variety of performing arts, handicrafts, rituals and cuisines. The cultural interaction spurred by such encounters prompts dialogue, builds understanding, and fosters tolerance and peace.

Fostering the responsible use of this living heritage for tourism purposes can generate employment, alleviate poverty, curb rural flight migration, and nurture a sense of pride among communities.

Tourism offers a powerful incentive for preserving and enhancing intangible cultural heritage, since the revenue it generates can be channelled back into initiatives to aid its long-term survival. Intangible cultural heritage must be thoughtfully managed if it is to flourish in an increasingly globalized world. Only true partnerships between communities and the tourism and heritage sectors, built on a genuine appreciation for the aspirations and values of all parties, can ensure its survival.

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 assist indigenous women in their post-COVID empowerment through tourism development, their living cultural heritage and traditional artisanship techniques.

Click here to visit the project webpage.

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?

  1. Tour operators and travel agencies
  2. Tour guides
  3. Indigenous communities
  4. Tourists
  5. Other stakeholders such as governments, policy makers and destinations

The Recommendations address some of the key questions regarding indigenous tourism:

indigenous entrepreneurs and advocatesHow 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?

Download PDF:

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). 

UNWTO Study on Tourism and Intangible Cultural HeritageThe 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

Relevant Links

*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