Experts convene at UNESCO on future of culture and tourism at EU-China Conference

02 November 2018

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C.Alix
© UNESCO

UNESCO gathered tourism and heritage experts at the Organization’s Headquarters on 29 October 2018 to examine the leading role that tourism and culture can play in fostering sustainable development in the EU and China.

The EU-China High Level Conference on World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism was organized in the framework of the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year, an initiative led by the European Commission and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, to foster greater cultural and commercial exchanges between the EU and China.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Qu Xing, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, and Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, highlighted various approaches to sustainable tourism development that bring local benefits, as well as the importance of innovation and the integration of complementary initiatives.

The Conference showcased the flagship project ‘ World Heritage Journeys of the European Union’ , the first-ever web platform dedicated to World Heritage and sustainable travel, launched in September 2018. The platform, featuring 34 selected World Heritage sites spread across 19 European Union countries, was developed in collaboration with National Geographic. Both the Conference and the World Heritage Journeys platform are initiatives supported by the European Union.

Experts from both the public and private sector shared their perspectives on a range of topics, including tourism marketing in China and in the EU, analysing the cultural traveller, tourism trends and forecasts, and the future of EU-China Tourism and Cultural collaboration.

Innovative approaches were shared, like a mini-programme in China developed by WeChat that works like an app and enables the subscribers to receive details about destinations so as to better organize trips. The Palace of Versailles is targeting the content of exhibitions to feature Chinese-French connections in art and diplomacy, and is making virtual exhibitions, audio guides, and signs available in Chinese. Eurail, along with Travelport and National Geographic, are marketing unique rail itineraries inspired by the World Heritage Journeys programme specifically for the Chinese market.

Mechtild Rössler, Director of the World Heritage Centre, presented a paper on World Heritage and sustainability. Panellists stressed the joint governance of routes between World Heritage sites, and demonstrated how the EU and China’s World Heritage sites are leveraging sustainable tourism to enhance conservation, sustainable development and wellbeing for local communities.

The Conference was followed by a World Heritage site managers’ meeting, which took place at Versailles Palace on 30 October, 2018. Representatives from the 34 UNESCO World Heritage sites participating in the World Heritage Journeys project met to discuss the marketing and sustainability strategy for the project in the long term.

Click here to view photos from the event.