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    Monday, December 26, 2022

    UNWTO Names 2022 Best Tourism Villages

    Thirty-two destinations around the world have been named ‘Best Tourism Villages 2022’

    The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) named the rural destinations that are embracing tourism as a driver of development and new opportunities for jobs and income, while preserving and promoting community-based values and products.

    This initiative places tourism as a driver of rural development and inclusion. The programme is aimed at ensuring that tourism contributes towards reducing regional inequalities in income and development.

    It also intends to fight depopulation, stimulate gender equality, women and youth empowerment; advancing innovation and digitalisation as well as improving connectivity, infrastructure, access to finance and investment.

    The initiative is promoting sustainable practices for more efficient use of resources and reduction of emissions and waste, enhancing education and skills. It promotes multi-level governance and partnerships and the active involvement and empowerment of communities.

    This recognises villages for their commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects and focuses on developing tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    In 2022, a total of 32 villages from 18 countries across the five world regions were awarded the recognition. An independent Advisory Board based on a set of criteria covering nine areas – Cultural and Natural Resources, evaluated the villages.

    They were known for promotion and conservation of cultural resources, economic, environmental and social sustainability. It encourages tourism development and value chain integration among others.

    Welcoming the news, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “For rural communities everywhere, tourism can be a true gamechanger in providing jobs, supporting local businesses and keeping traditions alive. The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO showcase the power of the sector to drive economic diversification and create opportunities for all outside of big cities.”

    A total of 136 villages were put forward for consideration by 57 UNWTO Member States (each Member State could nominate a maximum of three villages) for the 2022 edition. From these, 32 were recognised as Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO.

    Another set of 20 villages will enter the upgrade programme. All 52 villages will also become part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Global Network created in 2021, which from this date gathers 115 villages from the five continents. The Network provides a number of benefits including onsite and online training, sharing of good practices and international brand recognition and awareness.

    The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ recognises villages that are an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with accredited cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products, and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental.

    The initiative also has upgrade programme benefits for a number of villages that do not fully meet the criteria to receive recognition. These villages receive support from UNWTO and its partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.

    It also addresses Global Network that provides a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learning, and opportunities. It includes experts and public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development, as well.

    The award ceremony will take place in AlUla, Saudi Arabia between February 27 and 28, 2023 back-to-back with the first presential meeting of the UNWTO Network of Best Tourism Villages. The next edition of the Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO will open in February 2023.

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