On 18 July 2017, in the city of Kharakhorum, ancient capital of the Mongol Empire, the International Scientific Conference on “Silk Road and Kharakhorum” was organized by the International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations (IISNC) UNESCO Category II Institute, in partnership with the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, the Management Office of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape - World Heritage site and the Kharakhorum Museum. The Uvurkhangai Provincial Administration and Bayangobi tour camp, alongside the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, Erdene Zuu, provided support to the event.
The Conference aimed to discuss topics related to the enhancement of participation of local communities, especially nomads, in the development of tourism along the Silk Roads, the safeguarding of historical and cultural heritage and the promotion of cultural tourism. The Conference brought together members of Parliament, researchers and scientists specialized in the fields of history, archaeology and cultural heritage in order to discuss the strategy for further research, as well as the development of cultural tourism.
Along with participants of local and national authorities, including the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports, the Culture and Art Implementing Agency, the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia, and the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture, two international participants were invited to provide their insights on the topic, namely Ms Himalchuli Gurung, Programme Specialist for Culture from the UNESCO Beijing Office and the Dean of the Department of Tourism from the University of Industry of Inner Mongolia, Ms Xiao Mei Bai.
As a result, of the Conference participants formulated a set of recommendations and offered conceptual background dedicated to the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape. Participants understood the essential role of cultural and natural heritage in sustainable development, sustainable tourism and the importance of data collection and strategic planning. Participants also discussed about possibilities of promoting the World Heritage site Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape by developing a sustainable tourism programme with the theme “Silk Roads and Kharakhorum”.
Recommendations were made to promote actively the ancient city of Kharakhorum as a major touristic attraction of the Silk Roads, especially focusing on the need for coordination and information sharing between governmental and non-governmental organizations.
The participants also initiated the creation of an NGO called “Heritage-Silk Roads” which shall benefit from the outcomes and recommendations of the Conference.
Among the main needs stressed by the participants, the organization of regular conferences on the theme of the Silk Roads, the development of a database to facilitate coordination and information sharing and the creation of a website dedicated to the Silk Roads-Kharakhorum cultural tourism can be retained.
Decision-makers have expressed their willingness to lead diverse initiatives to achieve cultural tourism attractiveness in Kharakhorum among which the formal registration of monuments and sites along the Silk Roads as cultural heritage and the formation of a specific team constituted of experts of the area. They also agreed to implement marketing strategies to attract tourists, and to generally develop and increase the Silk Roads and Kharakhorum interest through effective management services (boosting the local economy, developing advantages for tourists as discounts and certificates …) and qualitative advertisement (participation to international events, initiation of dialogue with companies and stakeholders already using the name of Kharakorum …).