About 31 countries plan to join a common tourism project called the “Great Silk Road.” Officials voiced their intentions in the advent of other joint projects to be announced at ITB Berlin. The Director of Kazakhstan Tourism Industry Department, Marat Igaliyev, said the executives present at the fair discussed future plans during the 7th UNWTO Silk Road Ministers’ Meeting at ITB Berlin 2017 on March 8.
UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, said “2015 was a landmark year with the approval of the universal SDGs by the international community. Tourism can contribute to all 17 Goals.” Under the terms and plans of the new projects, tourism is supposed to help address all the interconnected challenges facing people and our planet. Some issues like ending poverty, promoting gender equality, fostering jobs and inclusive growth, and fighting climate change were mentioned on the agenda. During the panel, participants noted interesting travel trends presented by TripAdvisor. According to the official press release,
For the second consecutive year, TripAdvisor conducted a specialized consumer survey assessing travel preferences, habits, and interests along the Silk Road. Research highlights that among top interest areas while traveling along the Silk Road are visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, experiencing local gastronomy and attending local festivals and events.
The official program of the meeting featured highlights such as:
- New Opportunities for Sustainable Tourism Development along the Silk Road by Ms. Alla Peressolova, Head of UNWTO Silk Road Programme
- TripAdvisor Travel Trends for the Silk Road by Ms. Helena Egan, Global Director of Industry Relations, TripAdvisor
- Understanding Sustainable Tourism Development: community integration in West Bengal, India by Mr. Amitava Bhattacharya, Founder and Director of Banglanatak dot com
- The World Nomad Games and Nomadic Tourism in Kyrgyzstan by Mr. Azamat Zhamankulov, Deputy Minister of Culture, Information and Tourism of Kyrgyzstan
There are over 40 countries today alongside the historic Land and Maritime Silk Roads including Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Korea, Japan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and others. The itinerary is rich in UNESCO World Heritage Sites and there’s already great interest among travelers to visit these places. Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have already expressed their willingness to develop further touristic products within their borders.
The Silk Road Programme engages 33 UNWTO Members States, UN agencies, UNWTO Affiliate Members, as well as an extensive network of private sector stakeholders. The 7th UNWTO Silk Road Task Force meeting will be held in Valencia, Spain on 30-31 March 2017. Additional information is available on the official UNWTO Silk Road Programme website.