Tourism is one of the most lucrative industries in the world. Cultural tourism can have a positive economic and social impact and can facilitate harmony and understanding among people.
Careful attention is needed, however, as to the impact of tourism on the preservation of cultural heritage and on the illicit trafficking in cultural property. While the purchase of souvenirs supports the development of local cultural industries, the illicit export of protected cultural objects poses a serious risk not only to cultural heritage itself, but also to the potential of culture as a primary vector for economic development.
This is why UNESCO is joining forces with the tourism industry to raise the awareness of tourists and the general public on the importance of sustainable tourism and the need to protect cultural heritage. The international travel guide book publisher, Lonely Planet France, has published on their website a short article warning tourists on the risks of illicit trafficking in cultural property. This pioneering initiative aims to empower everyone by making them all actors for the protection of cultural heritage.
The paper version of the travel guides of certain selected countries – where movable cultural property is particularly at risk – will soon also include an article raising awareness on this important issue. UNESCO hopes to deploy new collaborative initiatives in the future with the Lonely Planet to further strengthen the awareness of travelers as well as the general public to the importance of protecting cultural heritage for the benefit of future generations.
See also: Lonely Planet France article (available only in French)