The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre are jointly organizing an International Conference on Sustainable Tourism Management in Heritage Sites which will take place at the Mount Huangshan World Heritage site in China from 24 to 27 March 2008.
Tourism growth is accelerating worldwide and arrival numbers are expected to double in the coming decades. World Heritage sites are iconic tourist attractions in most countries, experiencing similarly dynamic growth in tourism from international and domestic markets.
Pressures resulting from unplanned and uncontrolled tourism are major concerns to UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee. These include infrastructure development in and around World Heritage sites that are not compatible with the site's Outstanding Universal Values. Long-term sustainable tourism at World Heritage sites is only possible through collaboration between ministries dealing with site conservation and tourism policy issues and the tourism private sector.
This conference was intiated by UNWTO and UNESCO (through its World Heritage Centre) and it seeks to reinforce on-going collaboration between UNWTO and UNESCO, to strengthen and harmonize policy guidelines and tools, and facilitate their application through a strategic training programme on sustainable tourism at World Heritage Sites, which is going to be developed during 2008 and 2009.
It specifically addresses the issues of inter-agency cooperation and sustainable tourism. It will focus on the policies and practices needed to improve communication between the different interest groups and organizations leading to better decision-making on heritage tourism management.
The event will feature presentations by UNWTO and UNESCO experts as well as a case study application at the Huangshan World Heritage site. Tools, such as visitor survey techniques and sustainable tourism indicators, will be presented and their application explored. The case study exercise will provide a hands-on experience for participants that can be replicated at other sites.
This Conference is linked with strategic processes, such as UNESCO's World Heritage Tourism Programme Policy, and the reflection of the Periodic Reporting process within the framework of the World Heritage Convention, as well as UNWTO's programme on sustainable tourism policies, tools and indicators.