The development of a “Silk Road Heritage Corridors” tourism strategy for Central Asia and China is among the main outcomes of the 3rd UNWTO Silk Road Ministers’ Meeting held at ITB Travel Trade Show in Berlin, Germany, on March 6, 2013.
With the support of ITB Berlin, the 3rd Silk Road Ministers’ Meeting brought together ministers and vice ministers of tourism from over 20 Silk Road countries and international experts to discuss how to join forces to further raise the profile of Silk Road tourism, while safeguarding its exceptional heritage sites and intangible cultural heritage.
The event was the ideal backdrop for the announcement of the new joint UNWTO/UNESCO ‘Silk Road Heritage Corridors’ tourism strategy project, which will commence in 2013 with the support of UNESCO Netherlands Funds-in-Trust.
ADVANCING COLLABORATION ON HERITAGE PROTECTION AND VISA FACILITATION
The Meeting emphasized the importance of collaboration between ministries of tourism and ministries of culture in managing heritage effectively and sustainably and underscored the importance of engaging the local community and stakeholders in building levels of coordination and dialogue. Community involvement in this framework was highlighted as a key element in fighting poverty and supporting the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDGs).
Participants presented the latest technology in 3D laser scanning and digital modeling, demonstrating the role that this technology plays in preserving and maintaining the authenticity of heritage sites while enhancing the visitor experience.
Furthermore, the 3rd Silk Road Ministers Meeting represented a milestone in the promotion of travel facilitation as ministers expressed their commitment to improve visa policies and border crossings. In this regard, Tajikistan announced the opening of the Kulma pass on the border with China to international visitors, while Kazakhstan stated its intention to pursue a visa-free Central Asia.
On March 7, private sector stakeholders had the opportunity to share best practices and debate key issues at the UNWTO Silk Road Tour Operators´ Forum, another key annual meeting taking place as part of the UNWTO program of Silk Road events supported by ITB Berlin.