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Visitor management training kicks off in Mexico for Latin America and the Caribbean World Heritage sites

Wednesday, 19 June 2024
access_time 2 min read
Representatives from nine countries joined the UNESCO workshop to enhance sustainable tourism and community engagement in World Heritage site management. (18/06/2024)

Oaxaca, Mexico.― On 17-18 June, 2024, UNESCO organized the first workshop for the project ‘Latin America and the Caribbean: Strengthening Capacities for Resilient Communities through Sustainable Tourism and Heritage Safeguarding’, an initiative supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The workshop brought together site managers from Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama, to discuss strategic approaches to visitor management and identify priority areas for enhancing sustainable and inclusive tourism.

As a major economic driver for World Heritage destinations in the region, tourism generates important revenue for the conservation of cultural and natural heritage in the region.. In this context, participants shared common challenges that currently impact tourism management in their sites, such as: the gentrification of urban areas, the rise of short-term rentals for tourism, displacement of local communities, seasonality, climate change and natural disasters.  To gain a first-hand understanding of local issues and opportunities related to tourism, the site managers conducted visits to the Historic Centre of Oaxaca and the Archaeological site of Monte Albán.

The workshop provided a platform for site managers to share approaches for involving communities in tourism management and heritage safeguarding. These included: measuring community sentiment towards tourism, organizing community-based conservation programmes, holding community festivals/ events and providing educational programmes for local students.

The workshop also highlighted the importance of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH), emphasizing the need for management strategies that ensure tourism does not negatively impact the viability of ICH in World Heritage sites.

The participants received training on UNESCO’s ‘Visitor Management Assessment and Strategy Tool’, enabling them to identify gaps and key areas for improvement while contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The project will run until 2026 and three additional thematic workshops are planned in the region during 2024.

The workshop in Oaxaca was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Oaxaca, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Urban Development of the Municipality of Oaxaca de Juárez. The Educational and Cultural Coordination of the Central American Integration System (CECC/SICA) is supporting the regional integration of the overall project.

Latin America and the Caribbean was one of the regions with the fastest recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving nearly 72 million international arrivals in 2023 according to data from UN Tourism. Tourism is an important economic driver for the region which has 150 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and 99 elements inscribed on the lists of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.