Best Tourism Villages around the world declared by UNWTO
Preserving the natural and cultural diversity of global rural tourism
Madrid, December 13, 2021
The best examples of villages embracing tourism to provide opportunity and drive sustainable development have been celebrated at the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in Madrid.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative was launched to advance the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and their local values and activities, including local gastronomy.
A total of 44 villages from 32 countries across the five world regions were granted recognition in 2021. All of them stand out for their natural and cultural resources as well as for their innovative and transformative actions and commitment to the development of tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This initiative recognises those villages committed to making tourism a strong driver of their development and wellbeing. The villages were evaluated by an independent Advisory Board based on a set of criteria covering nine areas: 1) Cultural and Natural Resources; 2) Promotion and Conservation of Cultural Resources; 3) Economic Sustainability; 4) Social Sustainability; 5) Environmental Sustainability; 6) Tourism Potential and Development and Value Chain Integration; 7) Governance and Prioritisation of Tourism; 8) Infrastructure and Connectivity; 9) Health, Safety and Security. All of the 44 chosen villages scored a total of 80 or more points out of a possible 100.
Tourism as a driver of rural development and inclusion
“Tourism can be a driver of social cohesion and inclusion by promoting a fairer distribution of benefits throughout the territory and empowering local communities,” commented Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO. “This initiative recognises those villages committed to making tourism a strong driver of their development and wellbeing,” he added.
The Best Tourism Villages by the UNWTO initiative includes three pillars.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO recognises the villages which are an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with recognised cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Upgrade Programme will benefit a number of villages that do not fully meet the criteria to receive the recognition. These villages will receive support from UNWTO and its partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.
The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Network will provide a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learnings, and opportunities. It will include representatives of the villages recognised as the Best Tourism Village by UNWTO, the villages participating in the Upgrade Programme, as well as experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development.
A total of 174 villages were proposed by 75 UNWTO Member States (each Member State could present a maximum of three villages) for the 2021 pilot initiative. Among which 44 were recognised as Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO. Another 20 villages will enter the Upgrade Programme of the Initiative. All 64 villages enter to make part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages Network.
The next edition will open in February 2022.
The list of Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2021
Bekhovo, Russian Federation
Bojo, The Philippines
Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal
Cuetzalan del Progreso, Mexico
Batu Puteh, Malaysia
Le Morne, Mauritius
Misfat Al Abriyeen, Oman
Mokra Gora, Serbia
Nkotsi Village, Rwanda
Old Grand Port, Mauritius
Pano Lefkara, Cyprus
Puerto Williams, Chile
Rijal Alma'a, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Testo Alto, Brazil
Saas Fee, Switzerland
San Cosme y Damián, Paraguay
San Ginesio, Italy
Sidi Kaouki, Morocco
The Purple Island, Republic of Korea
Ungok Village, Republic of Korea