Industry Stakeholders Urged To Encourage Engagement Of Local Communities And The Private Sector In Developing Cultural Tourism

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Industry stakeholders have been encouraged to support the engagement of local communities and the private sector in developing cultural tourism following the completion of the second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Oman.

Immediately after the conference, which was held earlier this month, a declaration called the Muscat Declaration on Tourism and Culture: Fostering Sustainable Development was signed, towards the achievement of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The rapid growth of cultural tourism is undeniably evident, and this, according to the UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, comes with increased responsibility to protect our cultural and natural assets, the very foundation of our societies and our civilizations,” said Josephine Wawira from Jumia Travel, one of Africa’s leading hospitality sector players.

Major stakeholders at the just concluded 2nd UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture Muscat, held in the capital city of the Sultanate of Oman on 11th and 12th December 2017, reaffirmed to build and strengthen partnerships between the tourism and culture sectors and enhance their role in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Following the signing of the Declaration, sector stakeholders have been urged to strengthen the synergies between tourism and culture and advance the contribution of cultural tourism to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs.

Under the commitment, five underlying pointers are listed.

The Declaration has urged industry stakeholders to promote the engagement of local communities and the private sector in developing cultural tourism and preserving cultural heritage; enhance the role of tourism and culture in peace building and heritage protection; promote responsible and sustainable tourism management of cultural heritage; encourage a creative and innovative approach for sustainable urban development through cultural tourism; and explore the inter-linkages between culture and nature in sustainable tourism.

“It also emphasizes on the need to promote a culture of respect among tourists and local communities, when visiting sites and destinations for purposes of sustainable cultural tourism,” Wawira explained in a statement issued of December 19th, 2017.

“Tourism plays an important role as a vehicle for inter-cultural dialogue and, ultimately, peace,” said Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO Assistant Director-General on Culture, in his opening speech at the conference, on behalf of UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.

Coming at an era when digitalization is at the heart of every development, the Muscat declaration underscores the use of new technologies and innovation to support development; particularly in terms of entrepreneurship and job creation, as well as fostering creative business opportunities in cultural tourism, Wawira said.

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