Western Silk Road Roadmap

Western Silk Road Roadmap

Of practical nature, and based on common interests and needs, the Roadmap opens up immense opportunities for transnational cooperation by bringing together Western Silk Road destinations and stakeholders from the tourism sector and beyond.

Inspired by shared heritage ranging back centuries and present among us today in the shape of monuments, gastronomy, ideas, scriptures, architectural designs, clothing, music and many aspects more, the Roadmap outlines a common course of action and details short-, medium- and long-term objectives that are to ensure the flourishment of the Western Silk Road as a sustainable and internationally competitive transnational tourism route.

Initiated barely a year and a half ago, the interest and expectations raised by the Western Silk Road Tourism Development initiative has been startling. With research contributions arriving from partner universities across the region and with great attendance achieved at the two Western Silk Road workshops in Greece (April 2017) and Bulgaria (June 2017), the project partners are now in a position to implement practical initiatives with the help of the two main management structures created for this project, the Western Silk Road Working Group and the Western Silk Road Tourism Academic Network.

In the Foreword, UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, declares: “In connecting East and West through inclusive discourses, internalizing sustainable tourism practices within and between regions, safeguarding natural and cultural heritage through local engagement and participation, and seeking to strengthen tourism innovation and good practices, important steps are being made towards establishing the Silk Road as an internationally renowned, seamless travel experience”.

His words are seconded by Ms. Alla Peressolova, Head of the UNWTO Silk Road Programme, who praises the Roadmap for it foments “cooperation across borders and symbolizes the potential benefits to be derived from sustainable public-private partnerships. Confident of the immense opportunities for peace, prosperity and long-term sustainability, I sincerely hope that all readers find the Roadmap both stimulating and rewarding”.

The Western Silk Road Roadmap can be freely downloaded here.

The UNWTO Silk Road Programme would like to express its gratitude to all Silk Road destinations and partners for their ongoing support and dedication. We look forward to continuing our work with you in the future.

Additional information:

Enhancing the Understanding of European Tourism’ Project 

‘Enhancing the Understanding of European Tourism’ is a joint project by UNWTO and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission (DG GROW). The project aims to improve the socio-economic knowledge of the tourism sector: enhance the understanding of European tourism and contribute towards economic growth, job creation, and thus improving the competitiveness of the sector in Europe. The project includes three components: 1) increased cooperation and capacity building in tourism statistics; 2) assessment of tourism market trends; 3) promotion of cultural tourism through the Western Silk Road and; 4) promoting sustainable, responsible, accessible and ethical tourism. The project is co-financed with the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020) funds and will run until February 2018.


Western Silk Road Working Group

Within the framework of the Wester Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative, UNWTO led in the creation of Western Silk Road Working Groups (WG-WSR).

The WG-WSR functioned as collaborative platforms, and play a crucial role in gathering research input on Western Silk Road heritage available throughout Europe.

To learn more of the WG-WSR, please contact silkroad@unwto.org or access the Flyer

Western Silk Road Tourism Academic Network

The creation of the Western Silk Road Tourism Academic Network (Network) was announced during the 2nd International UNWTO Western Silk Road Workshop in Bulgaria (June 2017). Under the coordination of the UNWTO, nine universities have joined forces and are academically exploring the potential of the Western Silk Road as a transnational tourism concept. The Academic Network supports the Western Silk Road Working Group and partner destinations through joint research and the creation of practical tourism intelligence.

The Network is the offspring of the UNWTO/EU Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative - a pioneering and ground-breaking project led by UNWTO that introduced the Western Silk Road to the tourism world. Some of the SWOTs conducted as part of the research project.

Following universities are already collaborating: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece); ISTHIA University of Toulouse (France); University of Bologna (Italy); University of Kerbala (Iraq); University of Kragujevac (Serbia); People’s Friendship University (Russia); Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (Russia) and the University of Valencia (Spain).

The increased interest of our academic partners from Thessaloniki, Greece, in developing Silk Road tourism intelligence led to the establishment of the “European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre” on 29 August 2017. The Tourism Centre of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) was unanimously supported by the Senate of the University. The overall aim of the “European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre” is to promote international synergies and regional cooperation perspectives, encourage interdisciplinary research on how to enhance prospects for tourism development initiatives and cross-border collaboration, as well as cultural exchanges among countries on the Silk Road, based upon scientific documentation and analysis of the Silk Road cultural heritage. More information can be found here.

Silk Road partners interested in joining the Academic Network are kindly advised to contact the Silk Road Programme. Member States are also encouraged to inform their universities and research institutions, as credited partners will not only benefit from increased collaboration in the field of research but also practically contribute to the development of transnational tourism projects, supporting hereby further integration throughout the region.

For information on how to become a member of the Western Silk Road Tourism Academic Network and its Terms of Reference, please contact silkroad@unwto.org

The first phase of the UNWTO/EU Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative focused on researching Silk Road heritage throughout the Mediterranean basin. 

Research instruments used included semi-structured interviews, the organization of focus groups, and  SWOT analyses conducted in cooperation with multiple partners. Some of the studies can be accessed below:

Western Silk Road Research - Armenia

Western Silk Road Research - Greece

Western Silk Road Research - Italy

Western Silk Road Research - Russia

Western Silk Road Research: