Global tourism and culture leaders and stakeholders will convene in Muscat, capital city of the Sultanate of Oman, next 11-12 December to discuss the relation between tourism and culture. The event co-organized by UNWTO and UNESCO is held in the framework of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 and follows up on the first World Conference on Tourism and Culture held in 2015, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. More than 20 Tourism and Culture Ministers have confirmed participation.

The Conference will explore ways to build and strengthen the partnerships between the Tourism and Culture sectors in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs).

“Cultural tourism is growing, in popularity, in importance and in diversity embracing innovation and change. Yet, with growth comes increased responsibility, responsibility to protect our cultural and natural assets, the very foundation of our societies and our civilizations” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

“Tourism is a key resource for local communities and for heritage preservation. Heritage, tangible and intangible, is a crucial to providing social stability and identity. Linking culture and tourism in the sustainable development process is vital if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” said UNESCO Assistant Director General for Culture, Francesco Bandarin.

Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Mahrizi, Minister of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman highlighted that the host country will “ensure the success of the conference, convened for the purpose of exchanging experiences and ideas for achieving the sustainable tourism development.”

The first session of the Conference will be a Ministerial Dialogue on Tourism, Culture and Sustainable Development that will address the policy and governance frameworks necessary to foster sustainable development models. The promotion of cross-cultural exchanges and the safeguarding of tangible and intangible heritage will be also analyzed as a tool to enhance the contribution of Tourism and Culture to the 17 SDGs. A Special Dialogue will be dedicated to Cultural Tourism as a Factor of Peace and Prosperity.

The Conference is complemented with three round tables. The first one on ‘Tourism development and protection of cultural heritage and promoting responsible and sustainable tourism management at World Heritage sites’; the second on ‘Culture and tourism in urban development and creativity’ where encouraging innovation in cultural tourism products and services through creative industries will be tackled. The third session will explore the relevance of cultural landscapes in tourism and the integration of natural and cultural heritage philosophies and procedures for sustainable tourism development.

Some of the confirmed speakers include H.E. Ms. Eliza Jean Reid, First Lady of Iceland and H.E. Shaika Mai Bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, President of Bahrain Authority for Culture, both Special Ambassadors for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals and H.R.H. Princess Dana Firas, President of Petra National Trust (PNT), Jordan & UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.


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