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Tourism Ministers Explore New Tourism/CultureModels At Conference

By Ajibola Amzat
20 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
MINISTERS and Vice Ministers of Tourism and Culture, including over   900 participants from 100 countries, gathered at the UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to explore and advance new partnership models between tourism and culture.  The Ministerial Dialogue, moderated by Andrew Stevens from CNN International, focused on how tourism…

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MINISTERS and Vice Ministers of Tourism and Culture, including over   900 participants from 100 countries, gathered at the UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to explore and advance new partnership models between tourism and culture. 

The Ministerial Dialogue, moderated by Andrew Stevens from CNN International, focused on how tourism and culture administrations can work together to develop a governance framework for sustainable cultural tourism, which contributes to the socio-economic development of host communities, promotes cross-cultural exchanges, and generates resources for heritage conservation. 

The Ministers stressed the importance of creating common institutional structures to plan and manage cultural tourism, ensure community engagement and empowerment and cooperation with the private sector.

Tourism, according to UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, is moving more than one billion people across international borders each year, offering immense possibilities for socio-economic development in destinations around the world. 

The ministers observed that cultural tourism has proven to increase competitiveness, create employment opportunities, curb rural migration, generate income for investment in preservation, and nurture a sense of pride and self-esteem among host communities. 

They concluded that, in order to effectively promote and safeguard the heritage on which cultural tourism relies, a sustainable, multi-stakeholder approach is crucial.

Over the course of two days, the ministers highlighted the need to create a new framework for collaboration between tourism and culture, which includes active participation of host communities, visitors, the public and the private sector.

“We need cross cutting policies to promote the sustainable development of cultural tourism”, said Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, opening the meeting. “This Conference represents an important contribution to advance the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the link between tourism and culture”, he added.

“Cultural heritage tells mankind’s story; it tells our story. Carefully managed, tourism can protect and enliven this heritage, generate new opportunities for local communities, and foster tolerance and respect between peoples and nations”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai opening the Conference. “It is up to us to work together to harness the sheer force of one billion tourists, turning it into one billion opportunities to contribute to inclusive economic growth, social development and advancement of the post-2015 sustainability agenda around the world. I trust this Conference will allow us to strengthen our partnerships and work closer together as architects of such a sustainable future”, he added.

UNESCO Director-General,Irina Bokova in her message to the conference said, “Every tourist must be a custodian of world heritage, an ambassador of intercultural dialogue. This is why safeguarding cultural heritage must move forward with sustainable tourism. 

“This vision guides our efforts to promote culture as a driver and as an enabler of sustainable development.This has never been so important at this time of change, when countries are shaping a new global sustainable development agenda to follow 2015”.

In his key note address to the Conference, King Simeon II, former Prime Minster of Bulgaria, said: “As one of the three living heads of state from World War II, I must share with you what first came to my mind when reading about culture coupled with tourism: peace, harmony, mutual understanding. Promoting peace and understanding among people, securing thus a better standard of living, bonds of friendship in a world with far too much aggressiveness, hatred, inequality and prejudice, is vital. We need to ensure that cultural tourism is on the international community’s agenda for sustainable development in view of the new Sustainable Development Goals.”

 Also Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, stressed the efforts of the Saudi Commission in “promoting cultural heritage on various levels including its linkage to tourism, to the national economy and the development of the nation.”

In message to the Conference, the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, stressed that “the power of culture diversity has been acknowledged as an integral component for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and will remain an essential element of the post 2015 Sustainable UN Development Agenda. In this context, tourism plays an essential role in helping people of different cultures understand each other and eliminate cultural barriers”.

The technical sessions focused on cultural preservation, cultural routes, tourism and creative industries, and urban regeneration through cultural tourism.